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It is perhaps unnecessary to state that none 
of the sketches in this book refer to any 
particular individual. They are not arranged 
in chronological order ; they do not pretend 
to be anything more than mere impressions 
of the grim drama now being played across 
the water. 

Some of those pictured in these pages have 
gone across the Vale of Shadows : may the 
earth lie lightly on them, one and all. Others 
there are who, perchance, may think they 
recognise themselves here and there : to 
them I dedicate the book. 

The setting in most of the sketches is the 
salient of Ypres : there may be some who 
will recognise— not, I trust, without a throb 
of pleasure— Hooge, Frizenburg, the Menin- 
gate, and other health resorts of that de- 
lectable neighbourhood. 



But should I lift in the smallest degree, for 
those who wait behind, the curtain that 
shrouds " somewhere in France," and show 
them the tears and the laughter, the humour 
and the pathos that go to form the atmosphere 
over yonder, I shall be well satisfied. 

I am no artist in words, but—" Each in his 
separate star shall paint the thing as he sees 
it for the God of things as they are." 





• 57 


• 63 


■ 70 



THE MINE .... 
















MAY 10 TO MAY 24, 1915 


Gerald Ajnsworth was the only son of his 
parents— and they made something in tins. 
He had lots of money, as the sons of people 
who dabble in tins frequently do. He was 
a prominent member of several dull night- 
clubs, where he was in the habit of seeing life 
while other people saw his money. He 
did nothing and was generally rather bored 
with the process. In fact, he was a typical 
product of the twentieth century— with his 
father's house in the country full of footmen 
and ancestors, both types guaranteed by 
the best references— and his own rooms in 
London full of clothes and photographs. He 
was a very fair sample of that dread disease, 
"the Nut," and it was not altogether his 
own fault. Given an income that enabled 
him to do what he liked, certain that he would 
never be called on to work for his living, he 


had degenerated into a drifter through the 
pleasant paths of life— a man who had never 
done one single thing of the very slightest 
use to himself or anybody else. Then came 
the war, and our hero, who was not by any 
means a bad fellow at heart, obtained a 
commission. It was a bit c*^ an event in the 
family of Ainsworth— «& Blobbs— and the 
soldier-ancestor of Charles I.'s reign smiled 
approval from the walls of the family dining- 
room : as I have ,said, it was guaranteed to 
behave as all well-brought-up ancestors are 
reputed to do. 

Gerald was becomingly modest about it all, 
and, to do him credit, did not suffer from 
uniformitis as badly as some I wot of. It 
is possible that a small episode wL'ch occurred 
in the drawing-room of the baronial hall had 
something to uu with it— for, I will repeat, 
he was not a bad fellow at heart. And this 
was the episode. 

• " • • 

Coming in one Saturday afternoon on week- 
end leave in the full glory of his new uniform, 
he found the room full of girls— his income 
would in time be over five figures, his return 
for the week-end had not been kept secret. 


and there may or may not be a connection. 
Also there were his mother and father and 
one very bored man of about thirty in plain 

" This is my son, Gerald," cooed the old 
lady. " So splendid of him, you know, join- 
ing the Army. This dreadful war, you know. 
More tea, my dear. Poor things, out there 
—how I pity them. Quite terrible. But 
don t you think it's splendid, the way they're 
all joining ? " 

The bored man in mufti looked more bored. 
" Why ? " he asKed resignedly. 

" Why ! " echoed a creation on his right 
indignantly. "How can you ask such a 
thing ? Think of all the hardship and suffer- 
ing they'll have to endure. Isn't that 
enough ? " and she glanced tenderly at Gerald, 
while six other creations bit savagely at 
muflSns because she'd got it out first. 

" I don't quite follow the argument," 
answered the bored man patiently. "If a 
man has no ties, I don't see that there is any 
credit in his joining the Army. It is his plain 
<iuty. and the gravest discredit attaches to 
him if he doesn't. Don't you agree with 
me ? " and he turned to Gerald. 


"Certainly," answered Gerald, with the 
faintest hesitation. The line of argument 
was a little new. 

"And what regiment are you going to 
join ? " remarked another creation, with dan- 
gerous sweetness. 

The bored man smiled slightly. " The 
ont I've been in for ten years. I've just 
cone back from Central Africa and cross the 
day after to-morrow." 

As I have said, it is possible that this small 
incident tended to make the disease of uniform- 
itis a mild one in our hero's case, and to bring 
home to him exactly what the pukka soldier 
does think of it all. 

Time went on as time will do, and over his 
doings in the winter I will not linger. Bar 
the fact that he'd been worked till he was just 
about as fit as a man can be, I really know 
nothing about them. My story is of his 
coming to France and what happened to 
him while he was there till, stopping one in 
the shoulder, he went back to England feet 
first— a man, where before he had been an 
ass. He was only in France a fortnight, from 
the time he landed at Havre tiU the time 
they put him on a hospital ship at Boulogne ; 


but in that fortnight he lived and, not to put 
too fine a point on it, deuced nearly died as 
well ; so he got his money's worth. 

And now, for I have lingered too much on 
the introduction of my hero, I will get to 


The train crept on through the night— now 
pulling up with a series of nervo -shattering 
joItP, then on again at its apparently maxi- 
mum speed of twenty miles an hour. In 
the corner of a so-called first-class carriage 
Gerald Ainsworth stared into the darkness 
with unseeing eyes. The dim shapes that 
flashed past him seemed like the phantas- 
magoria of a dream. For the first time for 
three days he had the time to think. He 
recalled the lunch in Southampton when he 
had said good-bye to various people who 
seemed to have a slight difficulty in speaking. 
He remembered dining in the hotel vh-^-se 
sacred portals are barred to the civilian, still 
in ignorance of where he was going— to 
France, the Dardanelles, or even farther 
afield. Then all the bustle of embarking 


the regiment and, later, disembarking. And 
now he was actually under way, starting on 
the Great Adventure. There were others 
m the carriage with him, but only one was 
asleep and he did not belong to the regiment. 
To him the Adventure had ceased to be great ; 
it was old and stale, and he had spent most 
of his time cursing at not being able to raise 
a motor-car. For when you know the ropes 
—be It whispered— it is generally your own 
fault if you travel by supply train. But of 
that the man whb sat staring out of the 
window knew nothing. All he knew was. 
that every minute carried him nearer the 
unknown— the unknown of which he hjid 
read so j..uch and knew so little. 

His equipment was very new and beautiful 
—and very bulky. Prominent among it was 
■■p^^ that abomination of desolation the fitted 
mess-tin. Inside it reposed Uttle receptacles 
for salt and pepper and plates and dinner 
napkins and spirit lamps that explode hke 
bombs. Aunts are aunts, and there was 
none to tell him that the roads of Flanders 
are paved with fitted mess-tins. His revolver 
was loaded— in fact, five of those dangerous 
weapons reposed in the racks. The gentle- 




man who slept was armed only with a walkinir- 
stick. ... ^ 

Gerald Ainsworth mu..iered impatiently 
under his breath as the train stopped for the 
twelfth time in an hour. 

" Putrid journey, isn't it ? " said the man 
opposite him, and he grunted in acquiescence. 

Somehow he did not feel very much like 
talking. He recalled that little episode in 
the drawing-room of moniiis ago ; he recalled 
the man in mufti's cool, quiet face— his calm 
assumption that there was no credit in coming 
to f gh!:, but merely disgiace if you did not. 
He reaUsed that he and his like were on trial, 
and that the judge and jury were those same 
quiet-faced men who for centuries — from 
father to son— have carried the name of 
England into the four comers of the world, 
without hope of reward — just because it was 
their job ; those men who for years have 
realised that the old country was slipping, 
sliding down from the place that is hers by 
right of blood ; those men who were hanging 
on, waiting for him and his like to come and 
do their bit. He realised that the trial for 
which he had trained so hard was approach- 
ing ; that every minute carried him nearer 




And how many of those others-his judees 
-ky qmet and still in unmarked graves' ?_ 

hanH u ^'^^* ^' ^°°^"^ '^"ti'^ally at his 
W It was perfectly steady; shame- 
tacedly-unseen-he felt his pulse it was 
normal : he was not afraid, th^t he knewl 
and yet. somehow, in the pit of his sfomlch 
there was a curious sort of feeling. He 
"called the first time he had batted at^school 

wher? fvin?'^ "''"' ^ '^^ --"^^^ the time 
wften, lymg on an operating table he had 

se.n the doctor fiddling with his instnaments 

he recalled those horrible ancient newspapers 

in the waiting-room at his dentist's f and 

InU w u ""^^ ^'" °^ *h« unknown, he 
told himself savagely; moreover, he was 
nght Yet he envied fiercely. furi;usly. The 
man leeping m the opposite corner who 
came to war with a walking-stick. . . But 
the man who came to war with a walkine- 
stick. who slept so easily in his corner who 
swore because he could not get a motor-^° 




had had just that same sinking sensation one 
night eight or nine months ago 

He recalled the girls whose photographs 
adorned his rooms in London ; he recalled 
the night-clubs where women, of a tvoe 
always kind to him. had been even kindS 
since he had put on a uniform ; he recalled 
the home his father had bought-the home 
of a family, finished and done with wiped 
out m the market of money, wiped out by 
something in tins ; and somehow the noUow- 
ness of the whole thing struck him for the 
lirst time. He saw himself for what he 
really was-the progeny of an uneducated 
man with a business instinct, anH yet the 
welcome guest of people who would ha - 
Ignored him utterly had the tins proved 
bad And suddenly he found himself face 
to face with the realities of life-because in 
that slow-going, bumping train his imagina- 
tion had shown him the realities of death 
So far the only sheUs he had ever heard had 
been fired at a practice camp in England • 
so far he had never seen a man who had died 

through the still summer night, and his 
imagination supplied the deficiencies He 



was face to face with realities, and the chains 
of Engknd seemed a bit misty. . . . And yet 
a week ago they had seemed so real. Can 
Bernhardi have been right, after aU, in some 
of the things he said ? Is war necessary for 
a nation ? Does it show up Ufe in its true 
colours— when money ceases to be the only 
criterion ? 

Bernhardi may have been right, but, any- 
way, he is a horrible fellow. 

When Gerald Ainsworth woke up the train 
had grunted to a final halt at a biggish station, 
and the early morning sun was shining in a 
cloudless sky. 


Ainsworth fell out of the train endeavouring 
to buckle the various straps that held together 
his Christmas tree of equipment. In the 
intervals of getting his platoon sorted out he 
looked about him with a vague sort of feeling 
of surprise. Somehow he'd expected things 
would look different— and behold ! everything 
was just normal. A French sentry with his 


long-pointed bayonet at the crossing just 
outside the station seemed the only thing 
alive besides himself and his men. The man 
opposite, who had slept so soundly, had disap- 
peared, swearing volubly, to He in wait for 
a motor-car. And then happening to look 
at the colonel he found him in earnest con- 
sultation with an officer, who sported a red 
band on his arm. This extremely crusty 
individual he subsequently discovered boasted 
the mystic letters R. T. O. on his band— 
which for the benefit of the uninitiated may 
be translated Railway Transport Officer 
And though as a rule their duties do not 
carry them within range of the festive obus, 
or shell, yet their crustiness — the few who 
are crusty— may be forgiven them. For to 
them come wandering at all hours of the 
twenty-four men of all sorts, sizes, and 
descriptions, bleating for information and 
help. The type of individual who has lost 
his warrant, his equipment, and his head, 
and doesn't know where he is bound for, but 
it is somewhere beginning with a B, is parti- 
cularly popular with them early in the 
morning. However, that is all by the way. 



They filed out of the station and the 
battalion sat down beside the road, while 
the cooks got busy over breakfast. Periodic- 
ally a Staff officer hacked by on a rustic morn- 
ing Uver-shaker, and a couple of aeroplanes, 
flying low, passed over their heads bound 
on an early reconnaissance. They were still 
many miles from th:; firing line and, save 
for a low but insistent muttering, coming 
sullenly through the still morning air, they 
might have been' in England. In fact, it 
was a great deal more peaceful than training 
in England. The inhabitants passing by 
scarcely turned their heads to look at them 
— and, save for the inevitable crowd of small 
children who alternately sucked their dirty 
thumbs and demanded, " Cigarette, sou- 
venir," no one seemed at all interested 
in their existence. Everything was very 
different from the tin-god atmosphere of 

At last a whistle blew and there was a 
general tightening of belts and straps. The 
battaUon fell in, and with its head to the east 
swung off along the dusty road towards the 
distant muttering guns. As a route march 
it was much hke other route marches— except 



that they were actually in Flanders. The 
country was flat and uninteresting. The 
roads were pav& and very unpleasant to 
march on. Ainsworth's pack felt con- 
foundedly heavy, and the top had come off 
the pepper receptacle in the fitted mess-tin. 
They passed some Indians squatting in a 
field by the roadside, and occasionally a 
party of cavalry horses out on exercise— for 
the cavalry were up in the trenches, and when 
they're up there they leave the horses behind. 
Also gilded beings in motor-cars went past 
periodically, to the accompaniment of curses 
and much dust. The battalion was singing 
as it swung along, and in front a band of a 
sort gave forth martial music— the principal 
result of which was to bring those aud-:tors 
not connected with the regiment cursing 
from their bivouacs at the imseemly noise. 

And then miles away m the distance they 
saw a hne of Uttle white puffs up in the blue 
•of the sky— a new one appearing every second. 
It was Archibald— or the anti-aircraft gun- - 
" doing the dirty," that fruitful source of stiff 
necks to those who see him for the first time. 

But I will not dwell on that route march. 


It was, as I have said, much like others, only 
more so. That evening a very hot, tired 
and dusty battahon came to rest iA some 
wooden huts beside the road-their home 
for the next two or three days. The guns 
were much louder now, though everytWng 
else was still very quiet. Away about four of 
five miles m front of them a great paH of 
smoke hung lazily in the air-marking the 
funeral pyre of ill-fated " Wipers." For 
that was their destination in the near future 
as Ainsworth had akeady found out from 
the adjutant. 

Opposite them, on the other side of the road 
a cavaky regiment just out of the trenches 
was restmg. Everything seemed perfectly 
norm-J-no one seemed to feel the slightest 
exciteni^nt at being within half a dozen miles 
of the finng hne. The officers over the way 
were ragging-much as they did at home 
After a cursory glance at his battalion to 
size It up, none of them had paid the 
shghtest attention to them. The arrival of 
some new men was too common a sight for 
anyone to get excited about-but Ainsworth 
codid not be expected to know that 
He had strolled out just before dinner 


and as he reached a bend in the road 
the evening fnghtfulness in Ypres started 
For ten minutes or a quarter of an hour a 
funous shelhng went on, gradually dyiuR 
away to comparative quiet again. "^ ^ 

" Is anything happening ? " he asked of 
a passing cavahy subaltern. 
_ " Not that I know of," returned the other 
m some surprise. 

"But they're shelling very hard, aren't 
tney ? 

"That! That's nothing-they do that 
mostmghts. Are you just out .? Where are 
you going ? " 

" Wipers. I think. What's it Uke ? " 
"Damnable," rejoined the other ' tersely 
and with that the conversation languished 

For aU that, when Gerald pulled the 
blankets up to his chin that night the feehng 
m the pit of his stomach had gone He fek 
that he'd started to bat-that he was actuallv 
m the dentist's chair. 

Three days of complete quiet passed— 
three days that seemed to give the lie to his 
lacomc cavaky acquaintance. Occasionally 
a burst of sheUing proclaimed that neither 



side was actually asleep, and at. night, towards 
the south, the green German flares could be 
seen like brilliant stars in the sky. In the 
main, however, peace was the order of the 
day. Those who knew were not deceived, 
however, for there were many lulls before 
the storm in the second battle of Ypres 
—that long-drawn-out struggle round the 

sahent. But to the battaUon — just arrived 

the whole thing seemed rather disappoint- 
ing. They were tired of Archies and 
aeroplanes : they Were tired of the red glow 
they could see through the trees at night— 
where Ypr^s lay burning; above all, they 
were t./ed of getting smothered with dust 
from passing motor-lorries and ambulances 
which crashed up and down the road at all 
hours of the day and night. Like everyone 
when they first arrived, they wanted to be up 
and at it. The men had all been issued with 
respirators, and nightly did breathing exer- 
cises—in through the mouth and out through 
the nose— to the accompaniment of facetious 
remarks from the onlookers. They had not 
dabbled in Hun gas as yet, nor appreciated 
its delights, so the parade was not a popular 
one. Comments on " Tm with the Iron 



Mask." and requests of a personal nature to 
your fnends always to wear a pad owing to 
theu- improved appeatance. enlivened what 
otherwise would have been a somewhat 
bonng performance. A week later— but I will 
not anticipate. 

Ainsworth himself, to pass the time, had 
tried a httle bomb-throwing with his platoon. 
This also had not been an unqualified success. 
As far as the jam tins and hand grenades were 
concerned, everything in the garden was 
lovely. Quite a number went oif, and aU 
would have been well had not the tempter 
tempted. Reposing on the ground— brought 
up by an imbecile sergeant-lay a rifle grenade, 
that infernal invention which, on leaving the 
nfle puts a boomerang to shame and generaUy 
winds up m the commanding officer's dug- 
out, there exploding with great force. How- 
ever as I have remarked before. Ainsworth 
could not be expected to know that. Know- 
ledge on the avoidance of supply trains, and 
borwiom. and the devilry that lies latent in 
a rifle grenade comes only with many weary 
weeks. So he fired it. Away it went, soaring 
mto space, and at length a great explosion 
announced that all was over. 



" It seemed to go some way, sir," said the 

"It did," answered Ainsworth, "farther 
than I thought." His face expressed a little 
uneasiness, when suddenly an apparition 
appeared. Hopping over a ploughed field 
towards him, brandishing his arms, came an 
infuriated figure in carpet sUppers. The 
platoon paused in silent dismay, while a 
buU-Uke bellow came floating through the 

"You bUtherlig ass," roared an excited 
voice, as a pur^.e-faced gunner-major came 
to a standstill in front of him. " You fat- 
headed, splay-footed idiot. I have been 
shelled and gassed and shot at for two months 
without a pause by the Germans, and when 
I come back here to rest you plaster my 
picket line with lumps of steel, and burst 
lyddite bombs on my bed ! " 

"I'm very sorry, sir," said Ainsworth. 
" I'd no idea " 

" Then, damn it, go away and get ore. Go 
away and make noises and explosions in your 
own bed, or apply to go to the Dardanelles, 
or something. You're a menace, sir, a pest, 
and you ought to be locked up." 



So that, all things being considered, it came 
as a distinct relief to our somewhat ruffed 
and misunderstood hero when, on returning 
to lunch, he found the battalion was going up 
into the reserve trenches that night. 


And so it came to pass that at six o'clock 
that evening Gerald Ainsworth, with a few 
other officers of his battalion, jogged slowly 
along in a bone-shaking wagon toward Ypres. 
He was going up early to take over the 
trenches from the battalion they were re- 
lieving, which in turn was going up to the 
front line. Past the station with its twisted 
rails and splintered sleepers, past the water- 
tower, almost untouched at that time amid 
the general devastation, on down the road, 
and then right-handed into the square. Some 
blackened half-burned carcases lying under 
the ruins of the Cloth Hall— the first actual 
trace of war ho had seen — held him fascinated. 
Down a side street a house was burning 
fiercely, but of life there was none, except 
one military poUceman watching for looters. 



A very young subaltern on the box-seat was 
being entertained by the A.S.C. driver-one 
of the good old sort. Six officers fresh from 
home— thirsting for blood-should they not 
have It ? Every shell-hole held a story, and 
the dnver was an artist. " You can take 
It from me, sir, and I knows. This 'ere place 
weren t no blooming picnic three weeks ago 
The major, he says to me, 'Jones,' he says, 
the ration hmbers have gone off and have 
forgotten the tea. I looks to you to get 
the tea to them lads in the trenches. aL 
tliere s an allowance of pepper been sent out 
m a parcel by the League of Beauty in 
Tooting for our gaUant defenders in France 
— i>ut that in too.' 

"'Very good, sir.' I says. 'They shall 
have their tea and their pepper, or my name's 
not Alf Jones." 

" With that, sir. I harnesses up the old 
horses and I gaUops. Through 'ere I comes, 
the old horses going like two-year-olds. And 
then they was shelling it, no blooming error 
As I was going through, the cathedral fell 
down and one of the tiles hit me on the 
napper. But what did I care ? Just as I 
gets here I meets a party of officers— three 


generals and their Staff blokes. Says they 
to me, they says, ' Stop, for the generab are 
gassed and you must take us away.' 

" I says to 'em. I says, ' And what about 
the pepper, gentlemen, for the men in the 
trenches ? ' 

" ' Pepper ! ' cries a Staff officer, and as he 
spoke we took it, sir. Right into the back 
of the wagon they put a seventeen-iach shell, 
and the gift from the League of Beauty was 
all over the square. Sneeze !— you should 
have 'eard us. The Commander-in-Chief— 
'e sneezed the gas right out of 'im. and the 
Linseed Lancer 'e says to me, 'e says, ' Jones, 
you've saved our lives.' 

Yus,' I says, ' you're welcome to any 
little thing like that ; but what about them 
poor trusting girls and their pepper ? ' " 

It was at this moment, I subsequently 
gathered, that my subaltern hove in sight 
carrying two large mirrors under his arm 
and, finding where they were going, demanded 
a lift. 

" Very quiet to-night," he remarked, when 
he was stowed inside. " I' ve j ust been looting 
mirrors for periscopes." 



Now I've brought him into the storv be- 

that the reserve trenches they were occupyine 
were „ot all honey and strawben^ ^J^* 
He s a useless young blighter, and unless hJs 
watched very carefully he always drinks ^e 
than his fair share of port. But, in view of 
the fact that other people wiU arr ve TnUml 

^Zuvt ^"^ "*' '" *^«"<=h^s like them- 
I would like to ppint out that the man on 

Also that, because for three days on end voii 
do a thing with perfect safety^ it does not 
foUow that you won't be killed doing U ?? 
'7^i?; And I would like it to beVlea^," 
estabhshed that my port-drinking 100"^^ 
ZT !?^ '^' °*"" '" th« wagon that 

sneiied. Remember, everything was quiet 
Those who :„ay happen to read%hei S 
and who know Ypres will bear me witness 
as to how quiet it can be. and wiU agrSS 

NowV.* ""^ '""^^"^""y be-otherS:: '"^ 

Now they dropped him half way, at a place 

where there are cellars in which a man may 

Hve m safety, and there they disemLked 


from the wagon and walked: and all was 
peace. One dead horse— a very dead horse 
—raised its voice to heaven in mute protest ; 
but othevwise all was perfectly peaceful! 
Two or three shells passed overhead as they 
walked down the road, but these were quite 
obviously harmless. And suddenly one of 
our own batteries let drive from close by 
with a deafening bang. Nothing untoward 
occurred, and yet they were quite near 
enough to hear individual rifle shots. 

And so they came to the trenches which 
they were to occupy, and found them full 
of a regiment which had been in them for 
two days and was going up to the front line 
that night. The right flank rested on a railway 
line and the left on no special mark in parti- 
cular. Away in front of them on the left 
a dull brownish smudge could be seen on 
the ground— in a place where the country 
was open. The German trenches ! VVhodoes 
not remember the feelings with which he 
first contemplated the German front trench 
and realised that there actually reposed the 
Huns ? And, in passing, it's a strange fact, 
but nevertheless a true one, that quite a 



number of men have been out to the trenches 
survived two or three days, been wounded' 

Boche°°^ '^*''°"* '° '""''^ ^' '^'"'S ^ 

That night the battalion made their first 
acquamtance with trenches as a bed Luckily 
they were dry, as trenches go, though they 
suffered, m common with aU other trenches 
from an eruption of small pools of water 
occumng exactly where you wanted to put 
your head. And now the time has come for 
me to justify my subaltern's existence and 
entry mto this story. As I said before, he had 
warned that party of officers that the trench 
was not healthy at aU times, but his voice 
was as the voice of the Tishbite, or Job or 
whoever it was who cried in vain. For 'the 
next morning— a beautiful warm morning 
—the men woke up a bit cramped and stiff 
and getting up to stretch themselves found 
that everything was still quiet and peaceful 
And one by one they got out of the trenches 
and strolled about discussing hfe in general 
and breakfast in particular. Also several 
of the officers did the same. It came with- 
out warning-like a bolt from the blue A 
screaming sort of whizz-^nd then bang 


bang, bang all alon- ch- line : for the range 

was known by t- <: Germans to twenty yards. 

The officer Ger W was t Iking to gave a 

funny little throa y ocugh and collapsed like 

a pncked bladder. And he lay very still 

with his eyes staring— a sentence cut short 

on his lips— with a crimson stream spreading 

slowly from his head. For a moment Gerald 

stood dazed, and then with a gasp feU into 

the trench, puUing the officer after him. 

Crump, crump came two high-explosive shells 

—plump on the parapet— burying about ten 

men in the debris. And for a space the bat- 

tahon ceased to discuss things in general and 

breakfast in particular. 

Four hours later they were still sitting 
remarkably tight in the trenches. Airings 
on the ground had ceased to be popular— for 
behind the trench lay a dozen stiU forms with 
covered faces. Suddenly there came a voice 
from above Gerald, enquiring, to the accom- 
pamment of much unparliamentary language 
who was in charge of that bit of trench.' 
Looking up, he encountered the fierce gaze 
of a Staff officer and with him a crusty-looking 
sapper captain. 
" I say, look out ! " he cried, getting up. 



" It's awful up there. We lost about thirty 
men this morning." 

" So I see," answered the Staff officer. 
" What the deuce were they doing up here ? 
Are you aware that this is under direct 
observation from the Germans ? Some of 
you fellows seem to think that because 
things are quiet for five minutes you can 
dance pastoral dances in front of your 
trenches." He grunted dispassionately. 

The sapper captain took up the ball. 

" What do you propose to do where the 
parapet has collapsed ? " he enquired. 

" I really hadn't thought about it," an- 
swered Ainsworth, looking at the collapsed 
trench. " I haven't had any orders." 

" Orders ! On matters of that sort you 
don't receive them ; you give them. On the 
road are hundreds of sandbags, thousands of 

sandbags, millions of " The Staff officer 

caught his eye. Daily they quarrelled over 
sandbags. " At any rate," he went on firmly, 
" there are lots of sandbags. Go and get 
them. Fill them. Build up the bally trench, 
and don't leave it like that for the next poor 
blighters. Work on trenches is never finished. 



You can go on for days and weeks and 
months " But the Staff officer was lead- 
ing him away. " Years, I tell you, can you 

work on these d trenches: and he waits 

for orders ! " 

" Peter, you're feverish." The Staff officer 
gently drew him on and they suddenly paused. 
" What," he cried, in a voice of concentrated 
fury, gazing at a trench full of faces upturned 
to the sky, " what are you looking at ? Turn 
your faces down, you fat-headed dolts. I 
know it's a German aeroplane — I saw it 
three minutes ago — and there you sit with a 
row of white faces gazing up at him, so as 
to leave him j- ^ o doubt that tl.-; trenches 
are occupied. ■ down and don't move, 
and above all c^on't show him a great line 
of white blotches. They're bad enough for 
us to bear as it is, but " 

"James, you're feverish now." It was 
the sapper officer's turn to draw him away. 
" But I admit," he remarked sadly as they 
faded away, "that it's all quite dreadful. 
They learn in time, but, to begin with, they 
want nurses." 

And, lest the morning perambulation of 
these two weary officers may seem incon- 



sistent in any way with their words, I 'vould 
point out that what two or three may do 
in perfect safety a body of men may not. 
They don't as a rule waste shells on an 
isolated man in khaki, and these particular 
trenches were out of rifle range. 

For the time, therefore, we will leave 
Gerald building up his trench with those 
twelve silent bodies behind — eloquent testi- 
mony that appearances are deceitful and that 
the man on the spot knows best. 


"Is that the guide? WTiat, you're the 
general's cook ! Well, where the devil is the 
guide? All right, lead on." The battaUon 
was moving up into the front line trenches, 
after two uneventful days in reserve. Their 
lesson well learnt, they had kept under cover, 
and the only diversion had been the sudden 
appearance out of heaven of an enoimous 
piece of steel which had descended fiom the 
skies with great rapidity and an unpleasant 
zogging sort of noise. The mystery was un- 



earthed from the parapet where it had 
embedded itself, and completely defeated 
everyone; till a stray gunner, passing, told 
them that it was merely part of a German 
Archie shell — which had burst up at a 
great height and literally fallen like manna 
from the heavens. 

" Slow in front — for Heaven's sake." 
Agitated mutterings from the rear came 
bursting up to the front of the column, 
mingled with crashes and stiiled oaths as 
men fell into shell-holes they couldn't see, 
probably half-full of water. 

" Keep still — duck." An insistent order 
muttered from every officer as a great green 
flare shot up into the night and, falling on 
the ground near them, burnt fiercely and then 
went out, leaving everything blacker than 
ever. On their left a working party furiously 
deepened a communication trench that already 
resembled a young river. Coming on their 
right, as they crept and stumbled along in 
single file, a small pa'-ty of men loomed out 
of the night. More agitated mutterings: 
" Who are you ? " and from a medley of 
answe! ■ comprising everyone from the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury to the Kaiser, the fact 


emerges that they are the ration party of the 
regiment on their right. 

At last a halt. The head of the battalion 
has reached the trenches and the men begin 
getting in. Not used to the game, there is a 
lot of unnecessary delay before the men are 
settled and the other regiment away. They 
have left behind two or three officers to intro- 
duce the new men to the trenches, explain 
exactly what places, are healthy and what 
are not — where the ammunition is kept, and 
the bombs, and the flares. 

" A sniper with a fixed rifle has the other 
side of this traverse marked," said one of 
the officers to Gerald. " He's up in a tree 
somewhere — so don't keep any men on the 
other side of it. He's killed a lot of ours. 
Listen to him." And from the other side 
came a ping— thud, as the bullet hit the earth. 
Merely a rifle set on a certain mark during 
the day, and loosed off ten or eleven times 
every hour during the night— hoping to bag 

" They're pretty quiet here at present," he 
was told, "but I don't trust 'em a yard. 
They're too quiet. Bavarians. If you want 



to, there's an officer out in front about fifty 
yards away with a good helmet on. Thought 
of going out myself last night— but they 
were too bally busy with their flares. Still 
—the helmet's worth getting. Well, so long, 
I think I've shown you everything. Bye- 
bye. Oh ! while I think of it, they've got a 
bit cf this communication trench, about forty 
yards down, marked. I'd get it deepened." 
And with that he went, and Ainsworth was 
alone. Stray rifle shots cracking through the 
night— flares going up with steady persis- 
tency. He tested his telephone to Head- 
quarters—it was working. He went along 
his length of trench — one man watching in 
each little length, the rest lying down with 
rifles by their sides. Occasionally the watch- 
ing man gave them one round to show the 
Hun he wasn't forgotten; while without 
intermission the ping— thud from the fixed 
rifle came into the earth of the traverse. It 
formed a sort of lullaby to Gerald. The 
awakening was drastic. 

Just as the dawn was faintly streaking the 
sky, and the men all awake were gripping 
thek rifles in anticipation of any possible 



attack, the first shells burst along the line. 
From then on, for what seemed an eternity 
and was in reality two hours, the shells poured 
in without cessation. Shrapnel, high ex- 
plosive, and sometimes a great sausage- 
shaped fellow, came twisting and hurtling 
through the air, exploding, with a most 
deafening roar. That was the Minenwerfer 
(trench howitzer). The fumes from the 
shells got into their eyes, the parapet collapsed, 
traverses broke down, men gasping, twist- 
ing, buried. And still they came. Men, 
those who still lived, lay dazed and help- 
less. Whole sections of the front of the 
trench were torn away in great craters. In 
some places men, their reason almost gone, 
got blindly out of the trench— their one idea 
to get away from the ghastly Hving death. 
But if death was probable in the trench, it 
was certain outside. The deadly rain' of 
shrapnel searched them out, and one by one 
they fell. Some, perhaps, dragged on a space 
with shattered legs, muttering and moaning 
till another tearing explosion gave them peace. 
" Keep down, keep down ! " Ainsworth 
tried to shout. His hps, trembling with the 
fearful nerve-shattering inferno, could hardly 



frame the words. When they came it was 
only a whisper, but had he shouted through 
a megaphone none would have heard. The 
din was too incredible 

And still they came. His eyes were fixed 
stupidly on a man kneehng down behind a 
traverse, who was muttering fooHshiy to 
himself. He saw his lips moving, he cursed 
him foolishly, childishly, when, with a roar 
that seemed to spHt his whole head open, a 
high-explosive shell burst on the traverse 
itself. The man who had been muttering fell 
forward, was hurled forward, and his head 
stuck out of the earth which had fallen on 
him. Gerald laughed. It was deuced funny ; 
he started to howl with mirth, when suddenly 
the head rolled towards him. But he could 
not stop laughing. 

At last he pulled himself together. So this 
was what he had read about so often in the 
papers at home, was it?—" a furious bombard- 
ment of our trenches." Perhaps, though, he 
reflected, this was not a furious bombard- 
ment ; perhaps this was only "a slight 
artillery activity upon our front." And then 



he very nearly started laughing again. It 
was aU so frightfuUy funny ; the actual thing 
was so utterly different. And so far he had 
not seen a German. Everything had been 
so completely peaceful— until that morning 
—and then, without warning— this. Most 
amazing of all, he was not touched, and as 
that realisation first took hold of him so his 
dulled faculties first grasped the fact that 
the fire was slackening. It was, and, just hke 
a tropical storm, suddenly :t seemed to die 
away. SheJ] still passed screaming over- 
head, but those devastating explosions on 
the trenches— on his trenches— had ceased. 
Like the sudden cessation of bad toothache, 
he could hardly beheve it at first. His mind,' 
his brain were stiU dazed ; he seemed to be 
waking from a nightmare, but only half- 
awake. How long he lay there no one will 
ever know, trying to steady his hand, to 
still the twitching of his muscles ; but sud- 
denly he was recalled to his senses by seeing 
a figure coming cr.iwUng round the shattered 
traverse. It was his captain. 

" Thank Heaven, you've not stopped one, 
old boy ! " he said. " Good God 1 You've 
had it bad here." 



Gerald nodded ; he could not speak. His 
captain looked at him and so did the sapper 
officer who came behind ; and, being men 
of understanding, for a space there was 

" Worst bit of the whole line," said the 
sapper. " We must hold it where we can 
to-day and get it patched up to-night." 

" How many men have you got left, Gerald, 
in your platoon ? " 

" I don't know," he answered, and his 
voice sounded strange. He looked to see if 
the others noticed it, but they made no sign. 
As a matter of fact, his voice was quavering 
like an old man's — but, as I have said, they 
were men of understanding. " I'll go and 

And so the three crawled on, and in various 
odd corners they pulled out white-faced men. 
One in a corner was mad. He was playing a 
game by himself with another man's boot — 
a boot that contained its original owner's foot. 
One man was sobbing quietly, but most of 
them were just staring dazedly in front of 

Suddenly Gerald clutched his captain's arm. 



;iutrh:[;"'''^--^ed,.. they can get 

up. and. as a nutter of fa tttvTh ''"''' 
signs of advancing Th» t I ^ ^''"^ "» 
failed." ^" ^^^ bombardment has 

"Failed! Failed!" croakpH a- 

and he laughed hideou^y'^< R"tr'^' 
noticed the failure." ^" father— I 

"Nevertheless, old chan vuh.^. t 
nght. They've failed bec;ul?th ""^ '' 
advance." He nnt h,= i, 7 *^^y ^an't 
for a moment ^•' Vtl ^"^ °" ^''^^^'^ arm 
small local advance to JhT 'Z '° "^^« ^ 
dark, but I don't thint^M .""'^''' ^°^«'- of 
then. They Z-t rent ^'l ^ *'°"^^'*^ "" 

from What I zj of"; "'' ^'°:r'^'"''"^°*' 

he was gone ^"'^ ^^h that 

nantf orh?s7iiirr tr ^'^^ ''' -™- 

all told. He put S^^*^"'^ ^''^ «teen 
waited for the nilht 1 '' ^' ^""^'^ ^"^ 
working party tK'?'"' ^'^ ^""t^er 

v^vernead the shells still screamed 



on their way In the distance the dull boom 

He was getting fairly skilled now in estimat- 

Shelling of the trenches was stiU going on 
though not .n his section of the line And 
>t was then that I think the as period 

blackish whu , ^^ ^""^^^ <='""d of 

rir of t^e r^*"'' ^"'^ ^^*^^ h^^^d the 
H?/ ,•? *^\^''Pl°S'°n somewhere down the 
hne It was borne in on him that then wore 
other thmgs m the world besides night clubs 

Ind whiT"' °*^" ''^^"^^ besides cocktail 
and whisky sours and amusing women and 
«iat a new force was at workLthe f^^ "1 

pciU h' ""'^^ '^'" ^" ^^^™ very 
Ptttj. Ihe ancestors seemed a bit petty 

he money that came from things in tSi 
a head rolling towards him with gamne 

Ws"rS.h?1,'*"t^ eyes. It struck him S2 
his might have been the head. 



Now. in reading over what I have written con- 
cerning the commencement of Gerald Ains- 
worth's pilgrimage in the smihng fields of 
Flanders, I feel that I too have merited the 
rebuke so quietly given him in those words 
" They have faUed." He had lost his sense 
of proportion— about which another and a 
worthier pen than mine has written in con- 
nection with this same game of war— and 
I too have perhaps given those who may 
read these pages an unfair impression. 

That bombardment of which I have told 
was not an ordinary one, it is true, but 
at the same time it was not anything very 
extraordinary. Considered by the men who 
occupied those trenches, it was the nearest 
approach to a complete cataclysm of the 
universe that can be conceived of; con- 
sidered by the men who sit behind and move 
the pawns on the board, it was a furious 
bombardment of one five-hundredth of what 
they were responsible for. Moreover, it had 
failed. But it is not to be wondered at that 
when, some time later, Gerald was attempting 



to give his father some impression of what 
that morning had been hke that worthy old 
gentleman should have expressed great sur- 
prise and indignation that it was not reported 
in the papers, and stated with some freedom 
his opinion on the muzzling of the English 
Press. And yet, would it not have been 
making a mountain out of a mole-hill — a 
great battle out of nothing at all ? Yes, 
nothing at all ; for in this struggle what are 
fifty, a hundred men — provided the enemy 
does not get what it wants ? Much to the 
relatives of the fifty, " but nothing to the 
result. Hard, but true. A somewhat 
bitter fact. However, all this is a digres- 

We left Gerald, I think, with the remnants 
of his platoon scattered along what once were 
trenches, holding them till under cover of 
night a fresh working party could come up 
and rebuild them. The wire in front of him 
had been destroyed by the shell fire, and 
nothing but a piece of field, pitted and torn 
up by explosions, separated him from the 
Germans fifty yards away. The Germans 
facing him had established a superiority of 
rifle fire. Secure in practically undamaged 



trenches, did a man but show his hat opposite 
them it was riddled with bullets. 

Wherefore, after a couple of the remnants 
of the platoon had ill-advisedly shown their 
hats with their heads inside them, and a 
second later had subsided with a choking 
grunt and a final kick, the survivors confined 
their attention to the bottom of the trench, 
and from it sorted out the bombs and the 
flares and the reserve ammunition. Also 
they sorted out other things, which we need 
not specify, and threw them out behind, 
where in time perhaps they might be decently 
buried. And then, having done all they 
could, they sat down with their backs to 
the parapet and hoped for the best. It was 
not till half-past eight that night that the 
German artillery condescended to notice 
them again, and then for about ten minutes 
they put a desultory fire of shrapnel on to 
the trenches. Then the range lengthened. 

Now Gerald was no fool, and suddenly the 
words of the sapper captain in the morning 
rang through his brain. " They may make 
a small local advance under cover of dark." 
It was almost dark: they had shelled the 



trenches— apparently aimlessly— and now 
were shooting behind on the support trenches. 
Why ? He grovelled in the bottom of the 
trench and found a Very pistol and flare. 
Up it shot into the air, and as it did he saw 
them— the whole hne saw them— and the 
fun started. The mad minute started in 
earnest all along the trench. The trench 
that enfiladed the ground in front of him 
got going with a Maxim, flares flew up into 
the air from all along the line, falling behind 
the advancing Germans. For about ten 
minutes the most glorious pandemonium 
reigned: everyone was mixed up endways. 
In places the EngUsh had come out of their 
trenches and were going for them grunting 
and snarUng in the open with bayonets. In 
places they were fighting in our trenches— in 
places we were in theirs. The Maxim had 
ceased for fear of hitting its own men, and 
without intermission flares went up from 
both sides. Suddenly, on top of Gerald as 
he stood blazing away into the dusk, there 
loomed a Bavarian officer. It was touch 
and go, and if a sergeant beside him had 
shot a second later this yarn might have had 
to close here. As it was, the bullet from the 



Bavarian officer's revolver found a home in 
the earth, and the Bavarian himself fell with 
a crash to the bottom of the trench. 

But it could not go on. In places they 
were breaking ; in places they were broken ; 
but, unfortunately, in one place they had got 
through. At the extreme left of Gerald's 
trench, which he had been unable to reach 
during the day owing to a huge hole blown 
out of the parapet, the Germans had scrambled 
in. Elsewhere they had fallen back to their 
cv>n lines, pursued the whole way by men 
stibbing and hacking at them, their eyes red 
with the lust of killing, getting a bit of their 
own back after the unspeakable hell of the 
morning. And what but a quarter of an 
hour previously had been bare, open ground 
was now covered with motionless bodies, 
from which, later, a few wounded would drag 
themselves back to their own people. 

It was when comparative quiet again 
reigned that one of his sergeants came to 
Gerald and reported the uninvited appearance 
of the Germans away down on the left. Now 
the presence of the enemy in your own 
trench in small parties is, I understand, a 



thing that has frequently puzzled those who 
read about it at home. It is, however, a 
thing of fairly common occurrence, and a 
small hostile party on the offensive may prove 
extremely unpleasant. The whole thing be- 
comes a question of bombs and rapidity of 
action. Also, I will willingly lay two to one 
on the side that gets off the mark first. A 
traverse, as everyone knows, is a great lump 
of the original soil left standing when the 
trench is dug, and round which the trench is 
cut. Its object is to localise the bursts of 
high-explosive shell. As you cannot see 
round a corner or through soUd earth, it is, 
therefore, obvious that you cannot see from 
one bit of fire trench into the next, though 
you can get there by walking round the 
traverse. If, however, there is a man sitting 
waiting for you with a rifle this process is 
not to be recommended, as he will certainly 
get in the first shot at a range of about five 

Now all that Gerald knew, and, to his 
credit be it said, he acted with promptitude 
and without hesitation, and the man who 
does that in war, as in other things, generally 
acts with success. 


and apple, hair-brush, any damn" Sng'y"'; 
M',*'/"'* a" the men at once > " \hev 

for them m the mud. where they had been 
bun^.^and at last the party Z .eacJy- 

" What's the jest ? " said the sapper officer 

th:.'::i^a;irre/Sd^^'^^ ^°-^^°^ 

" Then, for Heaven's sake, see the fuse isn't 
too long^^. he rephed. "Just over an nch 
■LTl . "'//'"'"^ w-t. or they'll bu2 
burn about a second and a half ) 

AnTi^ ^''^^ *^' P^'^y ^^^ ««• led by Gerald 
And they crept on till, suddenly, t^s servant 
gnpped h,s arm and muttered: "TheX 

tt irth ^.r'/'"""-" ^"^ fro- beSS 
in G^n '""* ""^ ^ ^"'-^^ --I-ation 
Gerald, gripping a rifle, was quiverine with 
excitement. He stole forward to wTefe^J^ 
trench bent back behind the trlveS!" ^e 


the two front men 

in his hand to throw, when Ughted, 


^™e,"P ef ch with a bomb 
over the 

r?;^ ""^'v^* ^^ P-'^^'^e 'no'nent that 
Gerald gave them the signal to light tha he 
met hjs first German face to face. For find! 

make a httle tour of mspection on his own 

tTSefald'S? 'r^' '"' '^^' ^^--t'^n 
10 txerald s nfle. For a moment Gerald was 

onirfr'''' "' t'^^'^'-o-ching German, bS 
ZL \^ "'°'"'°*' *°' *^^ Bavarian's death- 
grunt the crack of the rifle, and the roar 
of the two bombs were ahnost simultaneous. 

" On V-n, boys ! " he shouted, jerking out 
his empty cartridge, and they scrambled 
round over the body, into the next St of 
trench^ Four Germans lay stiff, and two 
were s^gghng to get round the next trave^re 
One did and one did not. The sergeanTgot 
him first. Up to the next traverse^nd fhe 
same process over again ; but " Mo;e, move 
for Heaven's sake move!" is the moTto 1 
you want to keep 'em on the run. And if a 
German, wounded, tries to trip you-well 



halt, everyone, and send for the doctor and 
a motor-ambulance for the poor chap—I 
don't think I For three traverses they went 
on, and then a voice came from the other 
side. " We surrender." Oh ! Gerald. Gerald 
would that one who knew the sweeps had 
been there with you! After aU that's been 
wntten, why. oh! why did you not teU 
them to come to you instead of going to 
them ? Surely you have read of their caUous 
swimshness, and your sergeant's life was in 
your keeping ? 

There were three of them when he rounded 
the traverse, and three shots rang out at the 
same moment. One hit his sergeant in the 
head and one hit his sersieant in the heart 
and one passed between his own left arm and 
his body, cutting his coat. It was then he 
saw red, and so did the men who streamed 
after him. 

" Let's stick 'em, sir," said the men. though 
the Germans had now thrown down their 

" Nothing of the sort," he snarled. " Which 
of you said ' We surrender ? ' " and with the 
veins m his forehead standing out he glared 
at the Germans. 



" I did," answered one of them, smiling. 
" We really thought you would not be such 
fools as to be taken in." 

"Extraordinary, wasn't it?" laughed 
Gerald. Yes, the ass period had quite passed. 
His laugh caused the smiling German to stop 

" As you avoided our bombs entirely owing 

to an unwarrantable mistake on my part 

which cost me the life"— he swallowed 
unce or twice and his hands clenched— 
" the life of a valued man, I can only remedy 
this loss on your part to the best of my 

"Ah, well," answered the German, "we 
shall no doubt meet after the war and laugh 

over the episode. All is fair in love and " 

He shrugged his shoulders. " And now we 
are your prisoners." 

"Quite so," drawled Gerald. "AU ready 
for a first-class ticket to Donington Hall. 
You shall now have it. Bring, my lads, three 
hair-brush grenades and put in four inches 
of fuse. That's about eight seconds, my dear 
friends," and he smiled on the Germans, who 
were now grovelling on their knees. 
"Gott in Himmel!" screamed the one 



who '-ad spoken, " you would murder us after 
we nave surrendered ? " 

Gerald pointed to the dead sergeant lying 
huddled in the comer. " You had surrendered 
before you murdered him." he remarked 


And now I come to the last day that our 
fnend was privileged to spend in the lotus 
land of Ypres. When he returns let us hope 
we shaU have moved on— the place is a good 
deal too lotussy for most of us, if the heavily 
scented air is any criterion. He had ha I 
most of the excitements which those w' 
come over to this entertainment can exp -t 
to get, and on this last day he got the bonne 
bouche— the cream of the side shows. His 
battalion had come to the reserve tienches 
as I have said, and from there they had gone 
to an abode of cellars, where the men could 
wash and rest, 'or nothing save a direct hit 
with a seventeen-inch sheU could damage 
them It was at three o'clock in the morning 
that Gerald was violently roused from his 
slumbers by his captain. " Get to the men 



at once I " he ordered. " Respirators to be 
put on. They're making the heU of a fas 
attack. 1 1 seems to have missed these cellars 
but one never knows. Then go and see 
what's happening." Upstairs a confused 
babe of sound was going on, and upstairs 
Gerald spnnted after he had seen his men 
A strange smell hung about in the summer 
air; the peculiar stench of chlorine, luckily 
only mild, made him cough and his eyes 
smart and finaUy shut. The water poured 
out of them as eddies of wind made the gas 
stronger, and for a time he stood there utterly 
helpless. All around him men grunted and 
coughed, and lurched about helpless as he 
was. deprived of sight for the time. He 
heard odd fragments of conversation : " The 
front line has broken— gassed out. They're 
through in thousands— We're done for— 
Let's go." And then clear above the shell- 
mg, which had now started furiously he 
heard a voice which he recognised as' be- 
longing to one of the Staff officers of his 
brigade. "The first man who does go I 
shoot Sit down ! Keep your pads on, and 
wait for orders." 



Down the road came a few stragglers — men 
who had broken from the front line and from 
the reserve trenches. One or two were slightly 
gassed ; one or two were wounded ; several 
were neither. 

" And what are you doing ? " asked the 
same officer, planting himself in the middle 
of the road. " Wounded men in there ! 
The ren- -binder join that party and wait for 
orders ! " 

" But they're through us," muttered a 
mm, pushing past the officer. " I'm off." 

" Did you hear my order ? " said the officer 
sternly catching his arm. " Get in there — 
or I'll shoot you." 

" Lemme go, curse you," howled the man, 
shaking off his hand and lurching on — while 
the others paused in hesitation. There was a 
sharp crack, and with a grunt the man sub- 
sided in the road twitching. The Staff 
officer, turned round, and with his revolver 
still in his hand pointed to the party sitting 
down by Gerald. Without a word the men 
went there. 

" I am going up to see what's happening,'' 
he told Gerald. " Get these men below in 
the cellars and keep them there. It's the 


shelling will do the damage now — the gas is 
" Was it a bad attack ? " asked Gerald, 
" One of the worst we've had. One part 
of the line has been pierced, but the men 
have stuck it well everywhere else. Merci- 
fully we've almost avoided it here." And 
with that he was gone. 

Two hours later the wounded started to 
come down the road, and with them men who 
had really been gassed badly — probably 
through having mislaid their pads and not 
being able to find them in time. Some were 
on stretchers and some were walking. Some 
ran a few steps and then collapsed, panting 
and gasping on the road ; some lurched into 
the ditch and lay there vomiting, and on 
them all impartially there rained down a 
hail of shrapnel. In the dressing station 
they arranged them in rows ; and that day 
two sweating doctors handled over seven 
hundred cases. For the gassed men, wheez- 
ing, gasping, fighting for breath, with their 
faces green and their foreheads dripping, 
they could do next to nothing. In ambulances 
they got them away as fast as they could 



down the shell-swept road— and still they 
came pouring in without cessation. Gerald, 
watching the poor, struggling crowd, swore 
softly under his breath. He hadn't seen 
gas and its effects before, and the first time 
you see it you generally feel like killing some- 
thing German to ease the strain. And it 
was at this moment that a bursting shell 
scattered a bunch of staggering men and 
almost blew an officer coming down the road 
iiito his arms. 

The officer smiled at him feebly and then 
wiped some froth from his Ups with the 
back of his hand. He stood there swa3dng, 
his breath coming and going like a horse 
that's touched in the wind after being gal- 
loped. Out of one sleeve the blood was 
pouring, and with his hand he'd made a great 
smear of blood across his mouth. His face 
was green, and the gas sweat was all over 

"Good God!" muttered Gerald. "Sit 
down, my dear fellow." 

"No." he answered; "I must get on." 
He spoke slowly and with terrible difficulty, 
passing his tongue over his Ups from time to 
time and staring fixedly at Gerald. " Where 


is the general ? I have been sent to give him 
a message." With a dreadful tearing noise 
in his throat, he started to try to be sick. 
The paroxysm lasted about five minutes, and 
then he pulled himself together again. 

" Give me the message. I'll take it," said 
Gerald quietly. 

"Listen," said the officer, sitting down 
and heaving backwards and forwards. 
"Listen, for Z'm done in. They've broken 
through on our left. There aren't many of 
them, but oiu- left has had to give." Another 
paroxysm came on, and the poor lad rolled 
in the gutter, twisting and squirming. " The 
gas caught me in my dug-out," he croaked, 
" and I couldn't find my pad. Just like me, 
always lose everything." Gerald supported 
his head, and again wiped the froth from his 
mouth. " Our men," and the wheezing voice 
continued at intervals, " our men are gassed 
to blazes, but they're all up there. They've 
not fallen back except on the left, where they 
were up in the air. Poor chaps ! Lying in 
heaps being sick. Noise in trenches Uke 
bellows out of work. It's a swine's game, 
this gas." Again the tearing and gasping. 



"Tell the gunners to fire. For God's sake 
get 'em to fire. Their infantry all over the 
place, and we're getting about one shell of 
ours to twenty of theirs. Oh, God, this is 
awful ! " and he tore at his collar. 

"I'll go and find the general at once," 
said Gerald. 

The officer nodded. "Good. I'll stop 
here till I'm better, and then I suppose I 
must go back to tjie boys. Poor devils ! and 
I'm away out of it." He croaked hideously. 
" My men never budged, and now they're 
being shelled to bits— and they're helpless. 
Get reserves, man ; get reinforcements. For 
Heaven's sake, hurry. No one seems to know 
what's happening— and it's been awful up 

And so Gerald left him sitting by the side 
of the road, his eyes staring fixedly at nothing, 
periodically wiping the froth from his lips 
with a hand that left a crimson smear wherever 
it touched. And there the stretcher-bearers 
found him ten minutes later — one of hundreds 
of similar cases reported so tersely as " suffer- 
ing from gas poisoning." And here— having 
staggered across our horizon — he passes out 




again. Whether he Uved or died I know not 
— that man with the shattered arm and wet 
green face, who had brought back the message 
from the men whose left flank was sur- 

All I know is that a quarter of an hoiu: 
later Gerald was giving the report to the 
general — a report which confirmed the opinion 
of the situation which the Staff had already 
formed. Half an hour later Gerald' s battalion 
was ordered to counter-attack and, if they 
could get as far, fill the gap. Exactly five 
minutes from the time when the battahon 
pasaed the reserve trenches and, in extended 
order, pressed forward, my hero took it. 
He took it in the leg, and he took it in the 
arm from a high-explosive shrapnel, and 
went down for the count. They didn't get 
back all the ground lost, but they did very 
nearly — though of this Gerald knew nothing. 
He was bad — distinctly bad. He remembers 
dimly the agony the ambulance gave his arm 
that night, and has hazy recollections of a 
dear woman in a hospital train. He had 
landed at Havre on a Tuesday ; that day 
fortnight he left Boulogne in a hospital ship. 
Back up the ancestral home founded on some- 



thing m tins he wiU go in due course ; back 
to those sanie beautiful things-<reations 
was the word-who graced the ancestral 
orawing-roora some months ago. 

The situation is fraught with peril As I 
have whispered, his income will be something 
over five figures one day, and the creatioi^ 
nave taken up nursing. 

But somehow or other, his views on fife 
have changed, and 1 think the creations may 
have their work cut out. 




A NICE balmy day, a good motor-car, and a 
first-class lunch in prospect. Such was my 
comparatively enviable state less than a 
month ago. True, the motor-car's springs 
had had six months' joy riding on the roads 
of Flanders, and the lunch was to be in 
Ypres; but one can't have everything— 
and Wipers was quite a pleasant spot then. 
In the square, souvenir hunters wandered 
through the Cloth Hall and the cathedral 
intent on strange remnants of metal for the 
curious at home. Tobacco shops did a 
roaring trade— market day was on. Vil- 
lainous fragments of fried fish changed hands 
for a consideration, and everyone was happy 
and contented. 

Into a delightful little shop I ultimately 
found my way. Twelve smaU tables, spread 
with spotless linen, and, needless to say, full 
of officers satisfying the inner man, presided 



over by two charming French girls, seemed 
good enough for me, and, sure enough, the 
luncheon was on a par with the girls, which is 
saying " some " in the vernaculaur. As I 
left with a consignment of the most excellent 
white wine, for thirsty officers elsewhere, two 
soldiers passed me. 

'• Say, BiU," said one, " this 'ere Wipers 
is a bit of orl right. They can leave me here 
as long as they Ukes." And as I crossed the 
railway at the western end of the town, one 
shell passed sullenly overhead, the first I had 
heard that day — the only discordant note, 
the only sound of war. That was a month 

■ • • • • 

A fortnight ago duty took me past the same 
little shop and through the square. This 
time I did not linger — there were no souvenir 
hunters; there was no market-day. Again 
I was in a motor-car, but this time I rushed 
through — hoping for the best. Instead of 
one shell they came in their hundreds. A 
drunken, swaying noise through the air, 
like a tramway-car going homewards on 
its last joiurney down an empty road, a 
crash and the roar of the explosion, mixed 



with the rumble of falling masonry. Another 
house gone in the dead city. Huge holes 
clawed up in the pav6 road, and in every comer 
dead and twisted horses. Children lying 
torn in the gutter, women and men gaping 
in their death agony. Here and there a 
soldier ; legs, arms, fragments of what were 
once Uving, breathing creatures. And in 
nearly every house, had one gone in, little 
groups of civilians still moaning and mutter- 
ing feebly. They had crept into their homes, 
frightened, terrified— to wait for the death 
that must come. And without cessation 
came the shells. In one comer a motor- 
ambulance stood drunkenly on three wheels ; 
in the middle a wagon overtumed with four 
dead horses still fast in the traces, and under- 
neath them stuck out two legs, the legs of 
what had been the lead driver. A city of 
the dead — not a sign of visible life, save 
only our car picking its way carefully through 
dead horses and masses of bricks fallen across 
the road. Yesterday's tobacco buyers stiff 
in the gutters ; yesterday's vendors of fish 
dying in some corner like rats in a trap ; 
yesterday's luncheon-shop a huge hole in 
the wall with the rafters twisted and broken. 


and the floor of the room above scattered 
over the twelve tables with the spotless linen. 
And perhaps— worst of all— the terrible, all- 
pervading stench which seemed to brood like 
a pall over everything. 

At last we were clear of the square and 
getting into the open east of the town. 
Over the bridge and up a slight incline— then 
clear above the noise of the car for one most 
unpleasant second we heard the last tram 
going home. The next second a deafening 
roar, and we were in the centre of the stifling 
black fumes of a present from Krupps. All 
would have been well but for a dead horse 
in the centre of the road, which caused an 
abrupt stop. We left the car till the fumes 
had cleared away, and stumbled, gasping 
into the air, with the water pouring out of 
our eyes and the fumes catching our throats. 
And it was then we saw yesterday's Tommy 
who had regarded "Wipers" as a "bit of 
orl right." 

Staggering down the road came three men, 
lurching from side to side, bumping up 
against one anolner, then falling apart : ever 
and anon collapsing in the road or the 
gutter, disappearing into shell holes, tripping 





over dibris, over trees, over dead things. 
Gasping and panting they came on with their 
legs not strong enough to hold them. Nearer 
they came, and their faces were yellow-green, 
and their foreheads were thick with sweat,' 
though the evening was chilly. They were 
half-sobbing, half-moaning, with their collars 
open and their clothes coated in mud. And 
one of them had a great gash over his head. 
Just before they reached us he collapsed 
in the ditch — for the last time. He was 
leaning forward and heaving with the agony 
of getting his breath. A froth was forming 
on his mouth, and his face was green. 

" In God's name what is it ? " we asked 
one of the other two as they staggered by. 
He stared at us vacantly, gasped out the one 
word, "Gas," and disappeared into the 
shambles of Ypres. We had not seen it 
before. We have since, and the first horror 
of it is past : but as there is a heaven above, 
there is not a man who has seen its effects 
who would not give every worldly possession 
he has to be able slowly to dribble the con- 
tents of a cylinder of the foulest and most 
diaboUcal invention yet conceived into a 
trench full of the originators of a device which 


most savages would be ashamed to use. We 
picked up the poor devil in the ditch and 
got him to a dressing station. He died in 
fearful agony half an hour after, so I subse- 
quently heard. That was a fortnight ago. 

Four nights ago there was a great light in 
the sky. Standing up out of the blaze what 
was left of the cathedral showed up like a 
blackened sentinel. Through the trees the 
yellow flames shoile with a lurid glow, and 
the crashing of falling houses completed the 
destruction started by German shells. The 
sight was one which will never be forgotten 
by those who saw it— that final gutting of 
a stricken town. For three days and three 
nights it blazed, and now all is over. It is 
the best end for that historic city— the 
scene of so much senseless carnage. How 
many of its harmless inhabitants have perished 
with it will never be known— will probably 
never be even guessed at. But fire is a puri- 
fier, and purification was necessary in Ypres. 



No one could have called Herbert Jones 
brilliant : his best friend — if he possessed 
such a thing — would not have predicted a 
great future for him. Into the manner of 
his living during the first twenty years of his 
life it would be well not to enquire too closely. 
Herbert Jones — more generally known to 
his intimates as 'Erb— was a dweller in dark 
places ; one of the human flotsam who 
emerge like rats from their holes at night 
and spend in the nearest gin palace the few 
pence they have nefariously earned during 
the day. Hewasjusta product of the gutter ; 
from the gutter he came and to the gutter 
he returned in the fullness of time. And this 
was the way of it. 

Personally I never made the acquaintance 

of Herbert Jones : such information as I 

possess of his disreputable history was told 

me one night at a dreary cross-roads three or 



four miles east of Ypres. with the greenish 
flares lighting the sky all around us and the 
stench of dead horses in our nostrils. My 
informant was one of my drivers who had 
lived in the same street with him in London. 
What it was that had caused a temporary 
ebullition of decent feeling in such an un- 
promising subject I was unable to find out. 
It was something to do with a lady called 
Lizzie Green, too much gin, and a picture 
palace which displayed a film of the Royal 
Horse Artillery galloping into action. In view 
of the fact that ninety per cent, of Herbert's 
income was derived from making himself 
a public pest at jobbing stables, he quite 
naturally posed as a horsey youth, and that 
fact, coupled with Lizzie, the gin. and the 
film, apparently produced this one ebullition 
of decent feeUng of which I have spoken. 
He enlisted. The very next day he presented 
his unprepossessing personality at a recruit- 
ing office— and his slum knew him no more. 
The Royal Regiment swallowed him up, gave 
him a uniform, decent food, and prepared 
to make a man of him. 

It failed— hopelessly, dismally. The re- 
vilings of officers, the cursings of sergeants. 



the blasphemy of bombardiers alike failed 
to produce the slightest effect. His co;..ii. -t 
sheet rapidly assumed the appearance of a 
full-sized novel ; but there he was and there 
he remained— a driver in the Field Artillery, 
and the black sheep of his battery. 

A year later found him at MavTC. From 
there he drifted to Rouen— revih^d by evevv- 
one who had the misfortune to hnvL inything 
to do with him. At last, liki; a bad penny, 
he turned up again at his old battery, to t)ie 
horror of all concerned, who tliought they 
had effectually got rid of him at the be- 
ginning of the war. But the ways of record 
officers are wonderful— passing the ways of 
women. So when the news was broken to 
the major, and he had recovered, he ordered 
him to be put with the ammunition limbers, 
whose job it is to take ammunition to the 
battery nightly when they are in action and 
then return [for more. And the captain, 
whose job is largely ammunition supply, heard 
his history from the sergeant whose job is 
entirely ammunition supply, and their re- 
marks would be imprintable. Two nights 
later the battery was in action in the saUent 



somewhere east of Ypres, and the reserves of 
ammunition were away back somewhere to 
the west, and Herbert Jones was with the 

In the official comtnuniquSs it was known 
as a time of artillery activity in the neighbour- 
hood of Ypres : in the communiquis of the 
battery it was known as a time of hell let 
loose ; but especially was it so known among 
the ammunition limbers who nightly passed 
from west to east with full limbers and re- 
turned from east to west with empty ones. 
For, as may be seen by anyone who takes 
the trouble to procure an ordnance map, 
all roads from the west conver . on Ypres, 
and having passed through the neck of the 
bottle diverge again to the east ; which fact 
is not unknown to the Germans. So the 
limbers do not linger on the journey, but, 
at an interval of ten yards or 30, they travel 
as fast as straining horseflesh and sweating 
drivers can make them. In many places 
a map is not necessary — even to a stranger. 
The road is clearly marked by what has been 
left at its side — the toll of previous journeys 
of limbers, who went out six in number and 
retu'-ned only foxu-. And, should the stranger 



be blind, another of his senses will lead him 
unfailingly along the right road, for these 
derelict limbers and their horses have been 
there some time. 

• • • . 

The Germans were searching the road 
leading to Ypres from the cross-roads where 
I sat waiting for an infantry working party 
that had gone astray, on the first of the two 
occasions on which I saw 'Erb : that is to 
say, they were plastering a bit of the road 
with shells in the hope of bagging anything 
living on that bit. In the distance the rmnble 
of wagons up the road was becoming louder 
every minute. All around us— for it was a 
salient— green flares ht up the sky, showing 
where the front trenches lay, and occasional 
rolls of musketry. sweUing to a crescendo and 
then dying fitfully away, came at intervals 
from different parts of the Une. A few spent 
bullets pinged viciously overhead, and almost 
without cessation came the angry roar of 
high-explosive shrapnel bursting along the 
road or over the desolate plough on each side. 
Close to me, at the cross-roads itself, stood 
the remnants of a village— perhaps ten houses 
in all. The flares shone through the ruined 



walls— the place stank of death. Save for 
the noise it was a Dead World— a no 
man's land. In the little village two motor- 
ambulances balanced themselves Uke drunken 
derelicts. Dead horses lay stiff and distended 
across the road, and a few overturned 
wagons completed the scene of desolation. 

Then, suddenly, over a slight rise swung 
the ammunition limbers — grunting, ciu-sing, 
bumping into shell holes and out again. I 
watched them pass and swing away right- 
handed. In the rear came six pairs of horses, 
spare— in case. And as the la»t one went by 
a man beside me said, " Hullo ! there's £rb." 
It was then I got his hi«:ory. 

An hour later I was back at that same 
place, having caught my wandering in- 
fantry party and placed them on a hne with 
instructions to dig and continue digging 
till their arms dropped off. But when I got 
there I found it had changed a little in 
appearance, that dreary cross-roads. Just 
opposite the bank where I had sat were two 
horses lying in the road and the legs of a 
man stuck out from underneath them, and 
they had not been there an hour before. The 
horses' heads were turned towards Ypres, 



and it seemed to me that there was some- 
thing familiar in the markings of one of them. 
With the help of my drivers we palled out 
the man. It was no good— but one never 

And the same voice said, " Why, if s 

Crashing back on the return journey, the 
limbers empty, 'Erb again bringing up the 
rear with the spares, one blinding flash, 

We laid him in the gutter. 

Did I not say that he came from the gutter ? 
And to the gutter he returned in the fuUness 
of time. 



The reasons in triplicate which I gave to the 
general as to why the land mines had exploded 
at the wrong time are neither here nor there. 
Officially he accepted them, but it was all 
very trying, and entirely due to James. 

James is a great thorn in my side; he 
always has been. He is always doing un- 
expected things— thereby causing much alarm 
and despondency among everyone who has 
the doubtful pleasure of his acquaintance. 
The last time I saw him before the war was 
at the Pytchley Hunt ball some eighteen 
months ago, and though I hesitate to give 
the incident which occurred there in view of 
possible doubts being cast on my veracity, 
and also because of its apparently trifling 
nature, yet its connection with the sad failure 
of the land mines is too deep for me to dis- 
regard it. 
Know then that James had on a pair of 




new sift breeches purchased at great cosi 
from his already despondent tailor. His 
pink coat was lovely— James always was 
lovely before the war. In addition to all 
that there was a lobster mousse. I know it 
all sounds very difficult, but the fate of 
nations sometimes depends on far less than 
a lobster mousse. I discovered the lobster 
mousse— I alone. I rode off my supper 
partner— a woman of doubtful charm but 
undoubted appetite — and returned later to 
that mousse. It was the tenth wonder of 
the world — a mousse sans peur et sans 
reproche. I still dream of it. 

When it was nearly gone James appeared 
in the supper-room, and in a fit of generosity 
which still brings a lump to my throat I 
indicated the remnants of that mousse to 
him. He came — he sat down — he arose 
hurriedly. I will draw a veil over the pain- 
ful scene that followed. As I heard James 
pointing out to a beautiful being who posed 
as the head-waiter, a chair in the supper- 
room was not the best place to put a bunch 
of grapes. SiKpicion centred on the table- 
waiter, a Teuton of repellent aspect whom 
James saw laughing. He had a scar over 


his right eye, and looked capable of any- 
thing. Personally both his partner and I 
thought it rather funny— but then, as he 
quite justly observed, it was he who had sat 
on the chair in question. The last I saw of 
him was in the cloak-room vowing vengeance 
on Germans in general and that waiter in 

• • • . 

From that day until one night about ten 
days ago I did not see James. His appear- 
ance, as usual, was most unnecessary and 
quite uncalled for, and furnishes the true 
reason for the failure of the land mines, which, 
I regret to state, differs in one or two small 
details from the one rendered to the general 
in triplicate. Briefly, this was how the 
matter stood. 

In one portion of our line we had a trench 
which was of the semi-detached type. Both 
its ends were in the air, and at times it was 
most unhealthy. Sometimes it was occupied 
by us, sometimes by the Germans ; at times 
it was occupied by both, at other times by 
neither. It was a trench that had an air 
of expectancy over it— like a lucky dip in 
a bazaar. You might wander round a tra- 


verse one morning and find a German officer 
hating in a comer. The next morning you 
(, might find a young calf or a land mine. You 

•• never knew. All this uncertainty, coupled 

with the fact that the right flank of this 
trench was fifty yards from the one on its 
right, and that its left rested on a cess-pit, 
made the general decide on drastic measures. 
He had another one dug behind, and 
; ordered that it should be filled in. And in 

I view of the fact that it was only forty yards 

y from the Germans it all had to be done at 

" night. Furthermore he suggested that it 

would indeed be nice if I could place half a 
dozen land mines in the fiUed-in trench. 
Dissemblmg my pleasure at this horrible 
si^gestion, I retired from his dug-out, re- 
lapsing hu-medly into a Johnson hole as a 
sniper opened a rapid and unpleasantly 
accurate fire on me. As a result of my cogi- 
^ tations I found myself at about ten that night 

crawUng up a hedge towards the trench in 
question, while behind me came a cursing 
subaltern and several grunting men armed 
', with shovels. In the rear a dozen stalwarts 

I • carried the land mines. 

Now the idea of a land mine is very simple. 


You fill a box of some sort with guncotton, 
arranging the lid in such a way that it does 
not quite shut. You then place the box in 
the ground with the lid just below the sur- 
face, and the arrngement is such that should 
some imwary ..erson tread on the lid it 
promptly dot i shut, thereby driving a nail 
into a detonator and sending oS. the mine. 
This causes a severe shock to the person who 
inadvertently treads on it, at the same time 
causing great excitement among those of his 
neighbours who remain aUve. My idea was 
to crawl to the trench, fill it in, and, arranging 
the mines in suitable positions, retire and 
await developments. 

My difficulty — though it may seem a strange 
one to some people — was to find the trench, 
and having found it to get the men there 
without being seen. It is astonishing how 
easy it is to lose one's way when crawhng 
about a large open field at night, and the bit 
of trench I was seeking for was not very long. 
The German flares, which are extremely good 
— infinitely better than — but I will be dis- 
creet, though it is perfectly true — render the 
process of walking about close to their 


trenches a somewhat hazardous one. Should 
one of these flares fall on the ground, so that 
you are between it and the Germans, the only 
way to escape detection is to lie perfectly 
motionless until it burns out. All of which 
tends to make progress slow. It was while 
one of them was burning itself out, and I was 
endeavouring to set a safe course between 
two shell holes and a dead German, that 
James appeared out of the blue from nowhere. 
He had six German helmets, a few bayonets, 
and a variety of other trophies, and was 
making a noise Hke a wagonful of saucepans 
on a cobbled road. 

" Dear old boy," he cned, dropping every- 
thing on the ground, "it's the deuce of a 
time since I've seen you." 

"It is one of the few things for which I 
can honestly return thanks," I remarked 
somewhat shortly. " Would you like a mega- 
phone to tell them I'm coming up to work on 
that trench in front ? " 

" What are you going to do ? " he de- 

" Fill it in and mine it when I can find it." 

" Splendid," he answered. " I'm your 
man. These," and he kicked the trophies, 


which promptly gave forth a crashing noise, 
" all come from it. I've just been there. I 
will guide you." 

Under normal circumstances I would as 
soon have been guided by a young elephant ; 
but, as I say, James is difficult — very difficult. 

" I think there are one or two Germans in 
it," he whispered as we crawled on. " I 
heard one talking and threw a bomb over the 
traverse, but as I'd forgotten to light it it 
didn't go off." 

The next instant he disappeared and the 
procession came to an abrupt halt. A wallow- 
ing noise was heard, and James's head came 
into view again. " This is the trench," he 
remarked tersely, " the cess-pit end." It 
was one of the few occasions that night that 
I laughed. 

My subaltern extended the men while I 
entreated James to go. I thanked him for 
his valuable assistance and earnestly begged 
him to depart. He could help me no more, 
and I knew there would be a calamity if he 
remained. It was all in vain, James was out 
for a night of it, so ultimately I left him to 
his own devices and departed to see what 
was happening. I found everything quite 


peaceful ; six land mines were lying at the 
bottom of a bit of trench where we could get 
them when wanted, and the trench, all except 
about thirty yards, was being filled in. The 
thirty yards would be filled in later and 
would be mined. One could hear the Ger- 
mans talking in their trenches, and for the 
moment an air of complete calm brooded 
over the scene. 

No sniper sniped, no gunner gunned. A 
few gaunt trees creaked slightly in the breeze, 
and an occasional rifle crack came sharply 
through the night from farther down the 
line. Then James fell into the trench again. 
This time he missed the cess-pit and hit a 
German. As I have said before, it was all 
most annoying. 

A worrying noise was heard, and every one 
fell flat on his face as a rapid fusillade broke 
out from all directions. Flares went up by 
the score and everything became unpleasantly 
lively. The only person who seemed quite 
obUvious of all the turmoil was James. He 
suddenly loomed up in front of me dragging 
a diminutive Boche behind him. 

" Do you remember " — his voice was quite 




^^ 1653 Eoit Main Strwl 

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shaken with rage—" the acc;irsed swine-dog 
of a waiter at the Pytchley Hunt ball who 
laughed when I sat on the grapes ? I have 
him here." 

"Lie still, you fool," I muttered. "Do 
you want to get every one ' scuppered ' ? " 
Of course, James paid not the sUghtest 
attention. " I have him here," he grunted. 
"I know that scar, you horrible reptile," 
and he shook the little brute till his teeth 
rattled. " Are you aware that you spoilt the 
best pair of silk breeches I ever had, and I 
haven't paid for them yet ? " And with 
that he threw him into the trench close by. 
Like James at the ball, he sat down and 
arose hurriedly. James would select the 
bit of trench where the land mines were. 
There was a most deafening roar as all six 
went off, and that waiter will undoubtedly 
wait no more. James himself, I'm glad to 
say, was stunned, which kept him quiet for 
a time, but he was about the only quiet 
thing in France for the next hour. It is my 
personal belief that in addition to all the 
batteries on each side which opened fire 
simultaneously, the mjreterious gun which 
has bombarded Dunkirk let drive as well. 


For two hours I lay in a wet trench, with 
a pick in the small of my back and James 
on top of me. About three we all went 
home, rather the worse for wear. James 
said he had a headache and wouldn't play 
any more. I got one giving my reasons to 
the general in triplicate. 



"No. 10,379 Private Michael O'Flannigan, 
you are charged, first, with being absent 
from roll-caU on the 21st instant until 3.30 
a.m. on the 22nd, a period of five hoiu-s and 
thirty minutes ; second, being drunk ; third, 
assaulting an N.C.O. in the execution of his 

The colonel leant back in his chair in the 
orderly-room and gazed through his eyeglass 
at the huge bullet-headed Irishman standing 
on the other side of the table. 

The evidence was uninteresting, as such 
evidence usually is, the onl3' humorous relief 
being afforded by the sergeant of the guard on 
the night of the 21st, who came in with an 
eye of cerulean hue which all the efforts of 
his painstaking wife with raw beefsteak had 
been unable to subdue. It appeared from 
his evidence that he and Private O'Flannigan 
had had a slight difference of opinion, and 



that the accused had struck him in the face 
with his fist. 

" What have you got to say, Private O'Flan- 
nigan ? " 

" Shxire, 'twas one of the boys from Water- 
ford, sorr, I met in the town yonder, and we 
pwt away a bit of the shtuff. I would not 
be denying I was late, but I was not drunk 
at aU. And as for the sergeant, sure 'twas 
messing me about he was and plaguing me, 
and I did but push him in the face. Would 
I be hitting him. and he a Uttle one ? " 

The colonel glanced at the conduct-sheet 
in his hand; then he looked up at O'Flan- 

"Private O'Flannigan, this is y - fifth 
drunk. In addition to that you have struck 
a non-commissioned officer in the execution 
of his duty, one of the most serious crimes 
a soldier can commit. I'm sick of you. 
You do nothing but give trouble. The next 
dnmk you have I shall endeavour to get you 
discharged as incorrigible and worthless. As 
it is, I shall send you up for coiu-t-martial. 
Perhaps they will save me the trouble. March 
" Prisoner and escort — right turn — quick 



march ! " The sergeant-major piloted them 
through the door ; the incident closed. 

Now all that happened eighteen months 
ago. The rest is concerning the sixth drunk 
of Michsel O'Flannigan and what he did ; 
and it will also explain why at the present 
moment, in a certain depot mess in England, 
there lies in the centre of the dinner-table, 
every guest night, a strange jagged-looking 
piece of brown eatthenware. It was brought 
home one day in December by a: officer 
on leave, and it was handed over uy him 
to the officer commanding the depot. And 
once a week officers belonging to the 13th 
and 14th and other battalions gaze upon 
the strange relic and drink a toast to the 
Sixth Drunk. 

It seems that during November last the 
battalion was in the trenches round Ypres. 
Now, as all the world knows, at that time the 
trenches were scratchy, the weather was 
vile, and the Germans delivered infantry 
attacks without cessation. In fact, it was 
a most unpleasing and unsavoury period. 
In one of these scratchy trenches reposed 
the large bulk of Michael O'Flannigan: He 



did not like it at all — the permanent defensive 
which he and everyone else were forced into. 
It did not suit his character. Along with 
O'Flannigan there were a sergeant and three 
other men, and at certain periods of the day 
and night the huge Irishman would treat the 
world to an impromptu concert. He had a 
great deep bass voice, and when the mood 
was on him he would bellow out strange 
seditious songs — songs of the wilds of Ireland 
— and mingle with them taunts and jeers at 
the Germans opposite. 

Now these bursts of song were erratic, but 
there was one period which never varied. 
The arrival of the rum issue was invariably 
heralded by the most seditious song in 
O'Flannigan's very seditious repertory. 

One evening it came about that the Huns 
tactlessly decided to deliver an attack just 
about the same time as the rum was usually 
issued. For some time O'Flannigan had been 
thirstily eyeing the traverse in his trench 
round which it would come — ^when suddenly 
the burst of firing all along the Une proclaimed 
an attack. Moreover, it was an attack in 
earnest. The Huns reached the trenches and 
got into them, and, though they were twice 



driven out, bit by bit the battalion retired. 
O'Flannigan's trench being at the end and 
more or less unconnected with the others, 
the Germans passed it by: though, as the 
sergeant in charge very rightly realised, it 
could only be a question of a very few minutes 
before it would be untenable. 

" Get out," he ordered, " and join up with 
the regiment in the trenches behind." 

" And phwat of the issue of rum ? " de- 
manded Michael O'Flannigan, whose rifle was 
too hot to hold. 

" You may think you. self lucky,my bucko, 
if you ever get another," said the sergeant. 
" Get out." 

O'Flannigan looked at him. " If you're 
after thinking that I would be leaving the 
rum to them swine you are mistaken, ser- 

" Are you going, O'Flannigan ? " 

" Bedad, I'm not ! Not if the King himself 
was asking me." 

At that moment a Boche rounded the 
traverse. With a howl of joy O'Flannigan 
hit hin: with the butt of his rifle. From 
that moment he went mad. He hurled him- 



self over the traverse and started It was 
full of Germans — but this wild apparition 
finished them. Roaring Uke a bull and 
twisting his rifle round his head like a cane, 
the Irishman fell on them— and as they broke, 
he saw in the comer the well-beloved earthen- 
ware pot contaiaing the rum. He seized the 
•ihing m his right hand and poured most of 
the liquid down his throat, while the rest of 
it ran over his face and clothes. And then 
Michael O'Flannigan ran amok. His great 
voice rose high above the roar of the rifles, 
as, with the empty rum jar in one hand and 
his clubbed rifle in the oiher he went down 
the trench. 

What he must have4e6ked like with the red 
liquid pounng down his face, his hands 
covered with it, his clothes dripping with it, 
in that eerie half-light. Heaven knows. He 
was shouting an old song of the Fenian days, 
and it is possible they thought he was the 
devil. He was no bad substitute anyway. 
And then of a sudden his regiment ceased to 
shoot from the trenches behind and a voice 
cried, "O'Flannigan." It passed down the 
line, and, as one man, they came back 
howling, "O'Flannigan." They drove the 



Gennans out like chaff and fell back into the 
lost trenches — all save one little party, who 
paused at the sight in front of them. There 
stood O'Flannigan astride the colonel, who 
was mortally wounded. They heard rather 
than saw the blow that fetched home on the 
head of a Prussian oflBcer — almost simul- 
taneously with the crack of his revolver. 
They saw him go down with a cm. hed skull, 
while the big earthenware jar shivered to 
pieces. They saw O'Flannigan stagger a 
little and then look round — stiU with the top 
of the rum jar in his hand. 

" You are back," he cried. " It is well, but 
the rum is gone." 

And then the colonel spoke. He was near 
death and wandering. " The regiment has 
never yet lost a trench. Has it, O'Flannigan, 
you scoundrel ? " And he peered at him. 

" It has not, sorr," answered the Irishman. 

" I thought," muttered the dying officer, 
" there were Prussians in here a moment 

" They were, sorr, but they were not liking 
it, so they went." 

Suddenly the colonel raised himself on his 
elbow, " What's the matter with you, 



O'Flannigain ? What's that red on your 
face ? It's rum, you blackguard. You're 
drunk ag^in." His voice was growing weaker. 
"Sixth time . . . discharged . . . incorrig- 
ible and worthless." And with that he died. 

They looked at O'Flannigan, and he was 
sagging at the knees. "BedadI 'tis not all 
rum, the red on me, colonel, dear." 

He slowly collapsed and lay still. 

And that is the story of the strange table 
adornment of the depot mess, the depot of 
the regiment who have never yet lost a 

i ( 



"Last night we icxploded a mine under a 
redoubt in the enemy's trenches, and suc- 
cessfully occupied the crater. A consider- 
able number of Germans were killed." Thus 
the official communiqu6. 

And yet the great powers that be have 
no idea that this small local success was en- 
tirely due to David Jones— sometime miner 
in a coal-field in South Wales. In fact, the 
betting is about a fiver to an acid drop that 
they have no idea that he exists. Bar the 
poUce in his local village, who disliked him 
intensely, and his N.C.O.'s out here, who dis- 
Uked him still more, very few people do know 
that he exists. Undersized, in every way an 
undesirable acquaintance, a silent and morose 
man, it is nevertheless an undoubted fact 
that had it not been for David Jones, the 


* ^ 


aforementioned crater would not have been 
occupied, and the considerable number of 
defunct Germans would now be alive. And 
this was the way of it. 

The presence of David in such an unhealthy 
locality as Flanders was entirely due to his 
regrettable lack of distinction betwt .. meum 
and fuum. Exactly what occurred is im- 
material, but deciding that the evils he knew 
of in the shape of prison were probably worse 
than the evils he did not know of, in the 
shape of the Hun, our fiiend managed to 
evade the too pressing attentions of the 
police, and in due course foun' himself across 
the water in one of the new formed Tunnelling 
Companies. These companies are composed 
almost entirely of those who from their earliest 
infancy have been reared in the atmosphere 
of moles rather than in the atmosphere of 
men, and have as their work out here the 
great game of mining and countermining. 
Early in the proceedings it became apparent 
to those whose duty and privilege it was to 
command David Jones that his affection for 
woolly bears, pip squeaks, crumps, Marias, 
and others of the great genus obus was not of 
that type which passeth the love of women. 



It is even rumoured that on one occasion, 
in a wood behind the line which was receiv- 
ing attention from the Hun. and in which 
lay our hero's temporary abode, he made a 
voluntary confession of several real and a 
few imaginary misdeeds of his early youth 
in the hope of being sent back to prison and 
safety. Which is all by the way. 

In the course of time, however, the Tunnel- 
ling Company was called upon to justify its 
existence — ^to become again as moles and 
not men, to gasp £^nd sweat in the bowels of 
the earth — and thus the wood where they 
had been knew them no more. In front of 
our line, poked out a little from the German 
lines, there lay a semi-circular redoubt. It 
was strong, very strong, as many officers in 
many regiments of foot will confirm. The 
ground in front of it bore eloquent testimony 
to frequent unsuccessful attempts to dislodge 
the enemy. Gunners had gunned it pre- 
paratory to assaults, gunners had gunned it 
all day and every day for many days, but so 
far in vain. Always were the infantry met 
with the same deadly cross machine-gun fire 
did they set foot over ova parapet. Where- 
fore having failed to subdue it from the air, 



and over the ground, they sent for the miners 
and told them to try from underneath. And 
thus it was that David Jones came again to 
his natural element. 

Now I venture to think that of that 
natural element comparatively little is known 
by those who remain in the island over the 
water. The charge of cavahy, the thunder 
of guns, the grim infantry attack through 
the swirling mists of dawn, these can be 
visualisca, can be imagined. Pictures by 
artists, quite a small percentage of which are 
more or less accurate, give to those who have 
never seen the dread drama of war a tolerably 
accurate impression of what happens. But 
of David Jonos's natural element, of that 
work which goes on day and night, cease- 
lessly, burrowing under the ground nearer, 
ever nearer, the goal, there are no pictures 
to draw. And so before I come to tell of 
what my ruffian miner did under the earth 
in the place where the infantry had charged 
so often in vain, and of the German engineer 
officer who was discovered with part of his 
helmet forced into his brain and his head 
split asunder, I would digress for a space, 
and try to the best of my ability to paint 



that setting in which the human moles live 
and move and have their being. 

I would take those who may care to follow 
me to the front-line trenches, where at a 
certain place — a sap head, perchance, or a 
Johnson hole just behind, or even in the 
trench itself — a deep, shored up shaft has been 
sunk. Prom the front nothing is visible, and, 
by suitable screening, the inquisitive ones 
who fly overhead are prevented from seeing 
anjrthing to cheer them up and make them 
excited. At the bottom of the shaft two 
men are sitting shovelling a heap of loose 
earth into buckets. Each bucket as it is 
filled is hoisted up on a rope working on a 
pulley — only to be lowered again empty 
when the earth has been tipped into some 
convenient shell hole, screened from the sight 
of the gentlemen opposite. If seen, the 
steady exodus of earth from a trench at one 
point is apt to give the Hun furiously to 
think — always an unwise proceeding. In 
front of the two men is a low black hole from 
which at regular intervals there comes a 
man, stripped to the waist, glistening with 
sweat, pushing a small trolley on leathered 



wheels. While the two men silently tip up 
the trolley and empty out the earth, he 
stands blinking for a moment at the patch 
of blue sky, only to disappear into the low, 
black hole, his trolley empty. Everything 
is silent ; there is no hurry. Perhaps the 
occasional zip of a bullet, a lazy crump of a 
shell down the Une ; that is all, that and the 
low, black hole — ominous, sinister, the en- 
trance to the mine. 

And now mind your head; let us follow 
the man with the empty trolley. From far 
ahead comes the muffled thud of a pick, and 
behind one the light of day is streaming 
through the opening of the gallery. Bent 
almost double, one creeps forward, guiding 
oneself by one's hands as they . touch walls 
that feel dank and cold. Then a turning, and 
utter, absolute darkness, until far ahead a 
faint light appears, the Ught at the front face 
of the mine. Another man pushing a full 
trolley squeezes past you, his body gleam- 
ing faintly white in the darkness, while 
steadily, without cessation, by the hght of an 
electric lamp, the man on the front face goes 
on picking, picking, his body gUstening as 
if it had been dipped in oil. When he is 



tired, another takes his place ; there is no 
pause. Each yard as it is taken out is 
shored up with mine cases and sheeting, other- 
wise the whole thing may collapse on your 

As you go on, your hands against the sides, 
you will find possibly an opening on one side 
or the other — ^the opening of another gallery, 
a gallery with a T head at the end, all finished. 
No earth is being carted from here, there is 
for the time no one in it ; it is a listening 
gallery, and with the Ustening gallery and 
all it stands for we come to grips with the 
real drama of mining. Were it merely the 
mechanical removal of earth, the mechanical 
making of a tunnel from one place to another, 
it would perhaps be a safer occupation, but 
just as inspiring to write about as a new 
cure for corns. Moreover, it was from a 
listening gallery that David Jones — still, all 
in good time. 

Mining, like most games, is one at which 
two can play, and it is not a matter of great 
surprise that neither side will allow the other 
one to play unmolested. Therefore, where 
there is mining there also is countermining, 
and the two operations are not exactly the 


same. For while mining is essentially an 


offensive act designed to blow up a portion 


of the enemy's trenches and form a crater in 


which men may shelter, countermining is 

essentially a defensive act designed merely 


to wreck the advancing mine. Thus both 


sides may at the same time be running out a 


mine towards the opposite trenches, and also 


a countermine in another part of the hne to 


meet the hostile mine. Moreover, in a mine 


the charge is large, to effect as much damage 


as possible ; in a countermine the charge is 


small, in order not to make too large a crater 


in which the enemy may unscrupulously 


take up his abode. All of which is essential 


for the proper understanding of David Jones 


— ^his act. 


At periods, therefore, during the twenty- 


four hours all work in the mine is suspended. 


The m'lffled tapping of the pick ceases, and 

silence as of the grave reigns in the under- 


ground world. And during this period in 


each of the listening galleries skilled men 


stand with their ears glued to the earth, and 


some with instruments of which I may not 


speak, and listen. There under the earth, 


with their dead lying above them, in that 



No Man's Land between the trenches, with 
ears strained in the silence, a silence that can 
be felt, they listen for that dread noise, the 
muffled tap- tap of the enemy's miners counter- 
mining towards them. Sometimes the mine 
goes throuf h without any countermine at all 
— ^more often not. Frequently the counter- 
mine is exploded too soon, or the direction ^o 
wrong and no damage is done, but sometimes 
it is otherwise. Sometimes there will be a 
dull, rumbling explosion — a few mine cases 
will fly upwards from the centre of the 
ground between the trenches, perhaps a boot 
or a head, but nothing more. And the 
miners will mine no more. The countermine 
has been successful. 

But the estimation of distance and direc- 
tion vmder the ground by Ustening to the 
muffled tap of the other man is a tricky 
business, and depends on many things. A 
fissure in the right direction, and it will 
sound close to, when in reality it is far 
away ; an impervious strata across your 
front, and it will sound afar off, when in 
reahty it is near. 

Which aU goes to show that it is a game 
of chance. But I would ask the arm-chair 



critic, the man in the street, if he have a 
spark of imagination, to transport himself to 
a mine where there is yet ten yards to go 
Whenever for a space the moles stop, and 
the underworld silence settles Uke a pall, 
they hear the tap-tap of the other workers' 
ghostly fingers coming out to meet them. 
And then the tap-tap ceases. Have the 
others gone in the wrong direction, bearii» 
away from them, or are they close to, three 
or four feet away even now charging the head 
of theu: countermine with explosive ? Shall 
they go on. for time is precious, and finish 
that ten yards, or shall they stop awhile and 
see if they fire their countermine ? Is it safe 
to do another two yards before they stop or 
is it even now too late ? Is that great t^- 
mg explosion coming at once, in the next 
second, or isn't it coming at aU ? And all the 
time those glistening, sweating men cany on 
—pick, pick, pick. It is for the officer in 
charge to decide, and until then 

Now, I don't for a moment think that David 
Jones regarded the matter at aU in that light. 
An overmastering reUef at being in a place 
where whizz-bangs cease from troubling and 



pip-squeaks are at rest drove out all lesser 
thoughts. When it happened he was as 
nearly contented as he was capable of being. 
The mine was ready to fire. Its head was 
well under the centre of the German redoubt, 
and all the morning slabs of gun-cotton had 
been carried up to the head. With loving 
care the electric leads had been taken up, 
the detonator fixed up — everything was ready. 
The earth to damp the charge, so laboriously 
carted out, had been brought back again, to 
prevent the force of the explosion blowing 
down the gallery' instead of going upwards. 
And to the casual observer it seemed that 
the gallery ended merely in a solid wall of 
earth, into which vanished two harmless- 
looking black leads. 

Now, the mine was going to be fired at seven 
o'clock In the evening. One does not pre- 
pare with great trouble an elaborate affair 
of that sort and then loose it off at any old 
time. All the infantry were warned — ^the 
gunners were warned— staff officers at dis- 
creet distances buzzed like bluebottles. As 
soon as it went off the infantry were to rush 
the redoubt, the gunners were to shell behind 
to prevent the counter-attack, and the staff 







Which was all very 

were to have dinner, 
right and proper. 

The only one of these details which inter- 
ested David was the horn- at which the mine 
was to go off. Until that time he had fuUy 
made up his mind that the T head listening 
gallery, where he was comfortably smoking 
on a pile of sandbags, was a very much more 
desirable . lace than the trench up above 
where, at or about the hour of five-thirty the 
Hun was wont to hate with sheUs of great 
violence coming from a direction which ahnost 
enfiladed the trench. He recalled with dis- 
tinct aversion the man next him the previous 
evening who had stopped a large piece of 
shell with hh head. 

At the same time he had no intention of 
remaining in the T head when the mine went 
off. Six-thirty struck him as a good and 
propitious moment to take his departure to 
the dangers of the upper air. David Jones 
was not a man to take any risk that could 
be avoided, and the mere fact that every 
one had been ordered out of the mine had 
no bearing on the subject whatever. Like 
his personal courage. 

was nil. 

sense of discipline 



And so in the dark silence of the mine gal- 
lery, l}nng at ease oa sandbags, with no 
horrible whistlings overhead, David Jones 
settled himself to rest and ruminate, and in 
the fulness of time he slept. 

Now the mining operations had gone with- 
out a hitch. Apparently the Hun had no 
idea that his privacy was going to be in- 
vaded, and no sounds of countermining had 
been heard. Once, very faiut ir the distance, 
a tapping had been heard about three days 
after they had started. Since then it had 
not been repeated, and the officer in charge 
was not to be blamed for thinking that he 
had the show to himsel* Nevertheless it is 
an undoubted fact that the thing which woke 
David Jones was a large piece of earth fall- 
ing on his face, and a Ught shining through 
the face of the listening gallery. The next 
moment he heard a muttered ejaculation in 
a language he did not know, and great masses 
of earth rained down on his face while the 
light was extinguished. His training as a 
miner enabled him to see in a moment what 
had happened. That part of his mind 
worked instinctively. A German gallery had 
opened into their listening gallery. Some 



strata of soil had rendered it almost sound- 
less, and his sleep during the last two houro 
had prevented him hearing the approacu' 
through the final two feet. All that he 
grasped in a flash ; but what was far more 
to the point, he reahsf d that in about two 
seconds he would be face to face with a hca*- 
rible Hun. a prospect which turned him cold 
with horror. Had he been capable of getting 
up, had his legs been capable of overcoming 
his terror, there is but little doubt that he 
would have fled to the safety of the open air. 
After all, a problematic shell is better than 
an encounter with a large and brutal man 

But before he could move, a head and 
shoulders followed by a body came through 
the opening and fell almost on top of him. 
A torch was cautiously flashed, and by its 
light the trembling David saw a large and 
brutal-looking man peering round. Then 
the man moved forward. Evidently he 
had seen that he was in a gallery off the 
main one, and had failed to see otur hero 
sheltering behind the sandbags. For a long 
while there was sUence. David could hear 
the German's heavy breathing, as he stood 



a few feet from him just where the main gal- 
lery crossed the entrance to the T head. He 
realised that he was afraid to flash his torch 
until he was quite certain there was no one 

But no\\ "'avid's mind was moving with 
feverish activity. So far he had escaped 
detection — but supposing more of these ter- 
rible beings came. Supposing this one came 
back and did not overlook him again. The 
thought nerved him to action. Cautiously, 
without a sound he raised himself from be- 
hind the pile of sandbags and crept to the 
spot where the T head left the short gallery 
that connected it to the main one, and there 
he stood in the inky darkness with the Ger- 
man a f';w feet in front of him. His plan 
was to raake a dash for safety when the Ger- 
man started to explore the main gallery. 

It seemed an eternity — in reality it was 
about half a minute — ^before the light was 
again flashed cautiously into the darkness. 
It cast roimd in a circle and then came to a 
halt. He heard the sharp intake of the 
German's breath, and saw the light fixed on 
the two black leads. Then things moved 




The German laid down his pick, and fum- 
bled in his pocket for his wire-cutters. Those 
leads told their story plain for all to read. 
Again, in a flash, the dangers of his position 
struck David. This accursed Hun would cut 
the leads and then return, and run straight 
into him. He wouldn't bother to explore the 
gallery further. He would merely murder 
him, and pass on. A horrible thought. 

With infinite caution he reached for the 
pick. The German was muttering to him- 
self and trying to detach his wire-cutters 
from his belt. At last he had them free, and, 
flashi his torch once again, stooped for- 
ward v cut the lead. And as he did so with 
a grum David Jones struck— struck at the 
centre of the head outlined in the circle of 
light. There was a dreadful half -choked cry 
and — silence. 

Two minutes later David Jones was in the 
trench looking fearfully over his shoulder as 
if expecting pursuit. The idea of wamiug 
the officer in charge that a German gallery 
had struck through into theirs never even 
entered his head It was a matter of com- 



plete indifference to him if another Hon came 
in and cut the wire, so long as he wasn't on 
hand to be cut too. So it was fortunate 
perhaps that David had overslept himself, as 
one minute after his arrival in the upper earth 
there was a deafening thunderous roar. A 
great mass of earth, roots, wood, and other 
fragments flew owards and then came rain- 
ing down again. The infantry were across in 
a flash — the curtain of shrapnel descended — 
and the staff had dinner. 

There were two things that no one ever 
cleared up satisfactorily. One was the pre- 
sence of a miner's pick, of a pattern different 
to that in use in the British Army, in the 
tool diunp of a certain Tuimelling Company. 
But it was a very small thing, and no one 

The other was the presence of a German 
Engineer Officer in the mine shaft with his 
helmet, or part of it, in his brain. Various 
opinions were given by various people ; but 
as they were all wrong, they don't matter. 
Anyway, the mine had been most successful 
— and everybody shook hands with every- 

AJl, that is. except David Jones, who was 



undergoing Field Punishment Number One 
for stealing the emergency rum ration and 
getting drunk on it. 

Which is really rather humorous when you 
come to think of it. 

I i 





Four or five years ago, in the dim, hazy time 
when Europe lay at peace, there arrived at 
the station in England where I was fortunate 
enough to be serving a batch of eight re- 
cruits. They were very raw and very un- 
trained, and it was the doubtful pleasure of 
the unit in which I was, to undertake periodi- 
cally the training of such batches in order 
to relieve a somewhat overtaxed dep6t else- 
where. This batch— like unto other similar 
batches— aspired to become drivers in His 
Majesty's Corps of Royal Engineers. Occa- 
sionally their aspirations were reaUsed — more 
often not, for the terms of their service 
were two years with the colours and ten with 
the reserve, and at the end of two years the 
average man may just about be considered 



capable of looking after two horses and a 
set of harness — ^really looking after them — 
and not before. Then they go, or most of 
them, and the service knows them no more 
However, all that is beside the point. 

Wandering dispassionately roimd the 
stables one day, I perceived the eight, moimted 
on blankets, sitting on their horses, while a 
satirical and somewhat livery rough-riding 
corporal commented on the defects of their 
figures, their general appearance, and their 
doubtful claim to existence at all, in a way 
that is not uncommon with rough riders. 
Then for the first time I saw Brown — Driver 
Robert Brown, to give him his full name. 

"I 'ad a hamt once. No. 3. She was 
sixty-four, and weighed twenty stone. And 
if she'd 'a been sitting on that there 'orse of 
yours she'd have looked just like you : " ly 
'er chest grew in front and not he'ind .ike 

No. 3 was Driver Robert Brown. I passed 
on. The presence of an ofiicer sometimes 
tends to check the airy persiflage which flows 
so gracefully from the Ups of riding in- 

A week after I inquired of the Corporal as 


to the progress of his charges. " Not bad, 
sir," he said — " not bad. The best of them 
easy is that there Brown. He don't look 
much on a horse— in fact, he looks like a 
sack o' potatoes— but 'e's a tryer, and we'll 
turn 'im into something before we've done." 
Then one day — about four in the afternoon 
— ^I happened to wander through the stables. 
They were deserted apparently save for the 
stableman — until,' in a comer, I came upon 
Driver Brown. He was giving his horse 
sugcir, and making much of him— to use the 
riding-school phrase. We had a talk, and he 
told me things, when he got over his shyness — 
about his parents and where he lived, and 
that he loved animals, and a lot else besides. 
From then on I kept my eye on Brown, and 
the more I did so, the more I Uked him. He 
was no beauty — ^he was not particularly 
smart — ^but he was one of the best. His 
N.C.O.'s swore by him — ^his two horses had 
never looked better — ^his harness was spot- 
less. In addition to that he played back in 
the football eleven, if not with great skill, 
at any rate with immense keenness. He had 
exactly the figure for a zealous full back, and 
was of the type who kicked with such vim 


that when he missed the ball— which he 
generally did — ^he invariably fell heavily to 
the ground. Thus Robert Brown— recruit. 

When his two years were up. Brown 
elected to stay on in the Service. The Service 
consisting in this case of his commanding 
officer, his N.C.O.'s and myself, it could 
find no reason why he shouldn't— in fact, and 
on the contrary, many very excellent reasons 
why he should. So Brown took on for his 
seven. Shortly afterwards, owing to a 
marked propensity of my servant to combine 
the deUghts of old Scotch with the reprehen- 
sible custom of sleeping off those delights 
in my best easy chair — one bought on the 
hire system, not the Government issue, where 
sleep under any circumstances is completely 
out of the question— owing, as I say, to this 
unpleasant propensity, I approached my 
commanding officer. N.C.O.'s were annoyed 
—they entreated, they implored, and the 
issue was in doubt, till a providential attack 
of influenza laid my CO. low for the time, 
and the senior subaltern — myself — ^reigned in 
his stead. Then the sergeant-major laughed, 
and resigned himself to the ine- 'able. Driver 


Robert Brown became my servant, and the 
desecrator of my padded arm-chair retired — 
after a short period of durance vile — ^to seek 
repose on stable buckets. 

During the forthcoming six months I am 
bound to admit I suffered — dreadfully. You 
do not make a servant in a day ; but he tried 
his level best. We had shirt parades, in which 
I instructed him in the art of studding shirts, 
with little hints thrown in as to the advisa- 
bility of wreaking his will on the shirt for 
dinner before he cleaned my parade boots for 
the following morning — not after. We delved 
into the intricacies of washing Usts, and he 
waxed indignant over the prices charged. 
They seemed to me quite ordinary, but Brown 
would have none of it. I did not often study 
them — ^bills were never one of my hobbies; 
but one day it suddenly struck me the 
month's bill was smaller than usual. That 
was the awful occasion when changing quickly 
for cricket. I thought something was wrong 
with the shirt ; it seemed rather stiffer in 
front than the average flannel — ^moreover, it 
had no buttons. Howls for Brown. Vitu- 
peration for lack of buttons. 

" But. sir, that's an evening shirt you've 


got on. One I washed myself to save the 
washing bill." Tableau. 

Then I prepared lists on pieces of paper 
as to the exact things I required packed in 
my suit-case when I departed for week-ends. 
There was the hunting week-end, and the 
ball-dance week-end, and the week-end when 
I stayed 'neath the parental roof, and — er — 
other week-ends too numerous to mention. 
I would grunt Dance, or Home, or Brighton 
at him when he brought me my tea on Fri- 
day morning, and then during the morning 
he would, with the aid of the correct Ust, 
pack the necessary. There were occasional 
lapses. Once I remember — ^it was lunch- 
time on Friday, and we were being inspected. 
The mess was full of brass hats, and my 
train was 2.45. I had howled Dance at 
Brown as I passed my room before lunch, 
and was hoping for the best, when the mess 
waiter told me my servant wanted me for a 
moment. I went outside. 

" Please, sir, them thin ones of yours is 
full of holes and the other three are at the 
wash." His voice like himself was good and 
big. " Shall I run down and buy a pair and 
meet you at the station." 


AU the general said when I returned was, 
" Did he mean socks ? " 

Then there was a dreadful occasion when 
he sent me away one week-end with one of 
his dickies in my bag — ^he had been promoted 
to mufti—instead of a dress shirt; and 
another even more awful when he sent me 
to an austere household— prayers at eight, 
etc. — from the owner of which I had hopes, 
with my boots wrapped in a pap-^r of orange 
hue which had better be nameJ-oS. I could 
continue indefinitely — the mistakes that lad 
made would have built a chm-ch ; but withal 
I never wish for a better servant— a truer- 
hearted friend. And all this happened in the 
long dim ages way back before we started — 
he and I— with thousands of others for the 
land across the water ; where for a space 
he remained my servant, until in the fullness 
of time he passed down that Long Valley 
from which there is no return. Many have 
passed down it these last months — many will 
pass down it before Finis is written on this 
World War ; but none deserve a gentler 
crossing over the Great Divide than Robert 
Brown, Driver, R.E., and sometime batman. 


Now should there be any who, having read 
as far as this, hopefully continue in the belief 
that they are getting near the motto— in the 
shape of some wonderful deed of heroism and 
daring — they will, I am afraid, be disap- 
pointed. I have no startling pegs on which 
to hang the tale of his hfe. Like thousands 
of others, he never did anything very won- 
derful — he never did anything at all wonder- 
ful. He was just one of the big army of 
Browns out here of whom no one has ever 
heard. One of that big army who have done 
their bit unrewarded, unknown — because it 
was the thing to do ; a feeUng unknown to 
some of those at home — I allude to the genus 
Maidenhead Maggot still seen in large quan- 
tities— er—^-esting. And yet for each of 
those Browns — their death recorded so tersely 
in tue paper — some heart-broken woman has 
sobbed through the long night, watching the 
paling dawn with tear-stained eyes, aching 
for the sound of footsteps for ever still, con- 
juring up again the last time she saw her 
man, now lying in a nameless grave. Would 
the Maggot get as much ? I wonder. 

As I have said, I'm afraid I haven't got 
anjrthing very wonderful to describe. You 


can't make a deathless epic out of a man 
being sick— dreadfully sick beside the road 
—and an hour afterwards getting your food 
for you. It doesn't sound very romantic, I 

admit, and yet It was in the morning, I 

remember, about three o'clock, that we first 
smelt it, and we were lying about half a mile 
behind the line. That first sweet smell of 
chlorine turning gradually into the gasping, 
throat-racking fumes. Respirators weren't 
regarded with the same importance then as 
they are now, but we all had them. Of 
course I'd lost mine. Since early childhood 
I have invariably lost everything. Brown 
found it, and I put it on— and then he disap- 
peared. Some two hours later, when the 
shelling had abated a little, and the gas had 
long since passed, I found him again. He 
was white and sweating, and the gas was in 
himr-not ba»ily, you understand, not badly— 
but the gas was in him. For three or four 
hours he was sick, very sick— and his head 
was bursting. I know what he felt like. 

And I said to the major. " I'm sorry it's 
Brown, but it'll teach him a lesson not to 
lose his respirator again," for, that is the way 
with Thomas Atkins— he is apt to lose most 


things that are not attached to him by 

It doesn't sound at all romantic all this, 
does it ? — and yet, well, I found my respirator 
in the pocket of another coat. And as 
r| Brown came in with some food — ^he'd re- 
covered about an hour — I handed him back 
his respir..tor, and I asked him why he'd 
done it. 

" Well, I thought as 'ow you might 
'ave to be giving orders like, and would 
want it more than me." He spoke quite 

I didn't thank him — I couldn't have spoken 
to save my life — ^but the lad knew what I 
thought. There are some things for which 
thanks are an insult. 

There was another thing which comes to 
me too, as I write — nothing very wonderful 

again, and yet In the course of our 

wanderings we were engaged upon a job of 
work that caused us to make nightly a pil- 
grimage through Wipers. At the time Wipers 
was not healthy. That stas;e of the war of 
attrition — ^I understand thac many of the 
great thinkers call it a war of attrition, though 


personally I wish they could be here when 
the Hun is attriting, or whatever the verb is 
—that stage, then, known as the second battle 
of Ypres was in progress. And, though all 
of that modem Pompeii was unhealthy at 
the time, there were certain marked places 
particularly so. One such was the Devil's 
Comer. There, nightly, a large number of 
things— men and horses— were killed; and 
the road was littered with— well, fragments. 
Now it chanced one night that I had taken 
Brown with me to a point inside the salient, 
and at midnight I had sent him away— back 
to the field the other side of Ypres, where for 
the time we were lying. Two or three hours 
after I followed him, and my way led me past 
the Devil's Comer. All was quite quiet— the 
night's hate there was over, at any rate for 
the moment. One house was burning fiercely 
just at the comer, and the only sounds that 
broke the silence were the crackling of the 
flames and the occasional clatter of a lim- 
bered wagon travelling fast down a neigh- 
bouring road. And then suddenly I heard 
another sound— clear above my own foot- 
steps. It was the voice of a man singing— 
at least, when I say singing— it was a noise 


of sorts. Also there was no mistaking the 
owner of the voice. Too often had I heard 
that same voice apostrophiiing "a beauti- 
ful picture, in a beautiful golden fraime." I 
stopped surprised — for what in the name of 
fortune Brown was doing in such an un- 
savoury spot was beyond me I In fact, I felt 
distinctly angry. The practice of remaining 
in needlessly dangerous places is not one to 
be encouraged. I traced that noise ; it came 
from behind an overturned limber, with two 
defunct horses Ijnng in the ditch. I crossed 
the road and peered over. 

Sitting in the ditch was Robert Brown, and 
un his knees rested the heud of the limber 
driver. In the breaking dawn you could see 
that the end was very near — ^the driver had 
driven for the last time. From the limp sag 
of his back I thought it was broken, and a bit 
of shell had removed — ^well, no matter, but one 
could hear the beating of the wings. Brown 
didn't see me, but occasionally, gentle as a 
woman, he bent over him and wiped the 
death sweat from his forehead ; while all 
the time, under his breath, mechanically, he 
hummed his dirge. Then the man, lying half 
under the limber, stirred feebly. 


" What is it, mate ? " said Brown, leaning 

" Take the letters out of my pocket, matey," 
he muttered. "Them blokes at the War 

Office takes so long— and send 'em to— to " 

The Ups framed the words feebly, but no 
sound came. 

" Who to, pal ? " whispered Brown ; but 
even as ht spoke the poor maimed form 
quivered and lay still. And as I watched 
Brown lay his hejad gently down, and close 
his eyes, the road, the houses seemed to grow 
a trifle misty. When I next looked up I 
saw him stumping away down the road, and, 
as he rounded the corner, a dreadful noise 
stating that, with regard to a lady named 
Thora, " he had loved 'er in Ufe too little, 
'e 'ad loved 'er in death too well," came 
floating back in the still air. 

Yet methinks no great man's soul, speeded 
on its way by organ and anthem, ever had 
a nobler farewell than that Umber driver, if 
the spirit of the singer has anything to do 
with it. 

But, as I said before, I could continue in- 
definitely. Was there not the terrible occa- 


sion when I found him standing gua.d over 
a perfectly harmless Belgian interpreter , with 
a pick in his hand and the Ught nf battle in 
his eye, under the impression that he har' 
caught a German spy? The wretched man 
had lain on the ground for three hours — every 
movement being greeted with a growl of 
warning from Brown and a playful flourish 
of his pick. Also the awful moment when in 
an excess of zeal he built the Major a canvas 
chair, which collapsed immediately he sat 
in it, thereby condemning my irate com- 
manding officer to walk in a bent-up position 
with the framework attached to his person, 
till his howls of rage produced deUverance. 
But time is short, and the pegs are small. 
He was just one of the Robert Browns, that's 
all ; and the last peg in the lad's life is per- 
haps the smallest of all. 

It was wet two or three days ago, very 
wet ; and I, as usual, had gone out without 
a mackintosh. We were away back west of 
Ypres, in a region generally considered safe. 
It is safe as a matter of fact by comparison, 
but occasionally the Hun treats us to an obus 
or two — lest we forget his existence. I got 
back very wet, very angry, and very bored. 


and howled for Brown. There was no an- 
swer, save only from the doctor's orderly, 
and he it was who told me. Brown had 
started out when the rain came on, six 
or seven hours before, with my mackintosh, 
and, not returning, they had gone to look 
for him. 

In a ditch they found him with the water 
dyed crimson, a few minutes before he died. 
It was just a stray shell that found its mark 
on the lad. I can see him in my mind 
stumping along the road, humming his song — 
and then, without warning, the sudden screech 
close on top of him, the pitiful, sagging 
knefe, the glazing film of death, with none 
to aid him through as he had helped that 
other, for the road was little used. 

Thank God ! they found him before the 
end, but he only made one remark. " I 
couldn't get no farther, Dick," he muttered, 
" but the mack ain't stained." 

I went up to see him in the brewery where 
they'd carried him, and I looked on his 
honest, ugly face for the last time. "The 
mack ain't stained." No, lad, it isn't. May 
I, when I come to the last fence, be abie to 
say the same. 


Though he spoke it literally, there is, me- 
thinks, a man's religion in those last words of 
Robert Brown, Driver, R.E., and sometime 



James Dawlish's soul was sick within him. 
His tongue was cleaving to the roof of his 
mouth, parched and dry; his eyes gazed 
dully out of his white face at the pack of 
the man in front of him, who, like himself 
and fifty others, crouched huddled up in the 
ditch beside the road. Away in front 
stretched the pav6 road, gleaming white in 
the dim light of dusk, the road that ran 
straight, as only French roads can, until,, 
topping the rise three-quarters of a mile 
ahead, it merged into the darkness of the 
two lines of trees that guarded it. And 
twenty yards beyond that rise lay the German 

Then suddenly it came again. Out of the 
silent evening air the sudden salvo of six 
sharp hisses and six deafening cracks, the 
angry zipping of high explosive shrapnel 
through the trees over his head, the little 



eddies of dust in the road, the little thuds 
in the banks of the ditch where he crouched. 
Put baldly — in the language of the army — 
the Germans were searching the road with 
whizz-bangs, and had being doing so for 
twenty minutes. And the soul of James 
Dawlish was sick within him. 

All around him men were muttering, 
laughing, cursing, each after his kind. In 
front an officer, veiy j'oung, very new, was 
speaking to his sergeant-major. What he 
said is immaterial — ^which is perhaps as well, 
as he did nothing but repeat himself. The 
sergeant-major was a man of understanding, 
grown as used to shells as man may grow. 
For that matter so had the others — ^they 
were not a new regiment. James DawUsh 
was not new either. It was not his baptism 
of fire — ^he'd been shelled many times before ; 
but for all that he was afraid — terribly, 
horribly afraid. 

The psychology of fear is a strange thing. 
It is perhaps paradoxical, but I venture to 
think that without fear there can be no 
bravery — ^bravery, th? "s, in the true sense of 
the word. There are, I believe, some men 
who are without fear — ^literally and absolutely 



fearless. Such a condition of mind may be 
induced by sincere fatalism, but I rather 
think in the majority of cases it is due to a 
peculiar and fortunate twist of the brain. 
Inasmuch as one man will without thought 
dive forty feet into the sea and enjoy it, so 
will another, whos"; limbs would tremble at 
such a thought, boldly enter a cage of lions. 
Temperament, temperament only, at the 
bottom of it; And so it may well be that, 
were the wonderful, soul-stirring heroism of 
some V.C. to be weighed in the balance of 
mind and soul rather than in the balance 
of deed, he would be found less worthy to 
hold that coveted ribbon than a man whose 
sole contribution to fame was that he didn't 
run away. 

Not so James Dawlish. With him fear 
seemed to be ciunulative. Each time he 
came under fire, his terror of it increased. 
With most of us, who lay no claim to be 
without fear, sooner or later a merciful callous- 
ness settles down. Not that, if we think 
about it, our dislike of the genus obus is any 
less — far from it. But as time goes on, and 
a man does not get hit, though one day the 
dug-out he had just left was flattened by a 



cnunp, and another the man he was talking 
to was killed before his eyes ; though he may 
have had a hundred narrow escapes, yet in 
time it becomes to a greater or less extent 
his natural element— a part and parcel of his 
life — a thing of routine as much as breakfast, 
more so, in some cases. But that man is 
no braver now than he was : more fearless, 
perhaps, but no braver. It is, then, with 
most of us, the factor of custom that 
pulls us through the mill, and preserves our 

But to James Dawlish that factor was 
denied. Fate had decreed that the brain of 
James Dawlish should be so fashioned that 
no immunity from death in the past should 
detract one iota from the hideous terror of 
death in the present. Every tour of duty in 
the trenches he died a thousand deaths. He 
saw himself left dying between the Unes, 
stabbed in a stdden German rush, the re- 
cipient of the attentions of a Black Maria. 
He pictured to himself countless forms of 
death, each one more unpleasant than the 
last. Only the routine, the discipHne of the 
army had held him up to date, that and the 
complete lack of opportunity to run away. 



It is easier said than done to run away from 
the front-line trenches, especially when things 
are quiet. 

Which all boils down to the one essential 
fact that James Dawlish was a coward in the 
true sense of the word. Hundreds of men 
have lost their nerve temporarily, hundreds 
of men, huddled in a scratch in the ground, 
with their senses deadened and crushed 
by an inferno of bursting shells, have done 
things which the thoughtless dub cowardly. 
Men suddenly expbsed to gas with no means 
of protection, men waking to find the trench 
full of liquid fire, these and countless other 
cases no man may judge unless he has stood 
beside them in similcu: circumstances and 
not been found wanting. But James Daw- 
lish was not one of these. To him every 
moment of his life was a Uving death, a torture 
worse than hell. If one looks back to the 
cause of things, it was, I suppose, his misfor- 
tune and not his fault. He had been made 
so. Fear was a part of him, and pity rather 
than contempt is perhaps the fairest feeling 
to entertain for him. He could no more 
help his state of permanent terror, than a cat 
can help its dislike of water. 



" Get up." The word came down the line, 
the shelling seemed to have stopped. The 
men in front of him were moving ofi: up the 
road, but still he remained. A man tripped 
over him and cursed, but James Lawlish sat 
fumWing with his putties. No scheme was 
in his head ; he had no intention of not going 
up to the front line ; but clear out of the 
jumble of thoughts in his brain was his 
feverish desire to postpone if only for five 
minutes his nearer acquaintance with those 
great green Hares that lobbed into the sky 
so near him. He could almost hear the faint 
hiss as they fell burning to the ground. God ! 
how he hated it ! Then they started shelling 
a cross-road a hundred yards behind him, and 
he cowered still closer in the ditch, almost 
whimpering— for it had suddenly strnck him 
that he was alone. His platoon had gone on 
and left him : he had not even got the faint 
comfort of another man beside him. He was 
alone, utterly alone on a shell-swept road 
with an occasional spare bullet pinging down 
it, and the trees throwing fantastic shadows 
around him. 

Then suddenly above his head he heard 
voices, and the soft thrumming of a motor. 



"They'll stop hating in a moment and 
then we'll rush it," said a voice. 

James Dawlish looked up, and in that 
moi lent the idea was bom in his bemused 
brain. Safety— away from those cursed shells 
^away from those hissing green flares I What 
matter the right or wrong— what matter the 
penalties ? Nothing entered into his calcula- 
tions, saving only the thought of escape. 
And so with infinite caution he got out of the 
ditch and approached the driver of the ambu- 
lance as if he had been coming down the road. 

" Give us a lift, mate, wll v. u ? " he asked 

"Right ho! hop in. They've stopped 
shelling." The ambulance was off— the driver 
unsu^)iciou3. Many isolated men walk about 
behind the trenches at night, and anyway, it 
was none of his business. 

Thus it came about that No. 1234 Private 
James DawUsh, of the second battalion of the 
Loamshires, when on active service, deserted 
His Majesty's Forces. 

■ • • ■ " 

Now Thomas Atkins alone in a strange 
country, despite all rumours to the contrary, 
is a somewhat helpless individual. He will 



generally contrive to feed himself, and he 
has an infallible instinct for spotting those 
estaminets that contain the unpleasing liquid 
which passes as beer in Flanders. But when 
it comes to getting from one place to another, 
he gives up the unequal contest, and throws 
himself on the mercy of the nearest officer. 
And this was precisely what James Dawlish 
could not do. In the first place, he didn't 
know where he did want to go ; he didn't 
much care so long as he kept out of the 
trenches ; and in the second place, he was 
quite an old enough soldier to realise what 
he haa done and, what was far more to the 
point, to realise the penalty. " Death or 
such less punishment as is in this Act men- 

Detection, he knew, would not come from 
the regiment. Too many men are reported 
missing for his absence to evoke any awkward 
questions. It was the people behind he had 
to fear, military poUce, assistant provost- 
marshals, and such-like abominations to 
the evil-doer. If only he could lie hid for a 
time, and finally borrow some one else's 
clothes and disappear — that was his half- 
formed play. Hazy and nebulous, true — but 



anything, anjrthing on God's earth rather 
than go back. 

It was while he was turning it over in his 
mind, with no clear idea of where he was 
going, that, rounding a bend in the road, he 
saw a few miles off the monastery that is 
set on a hill, and which forms one of the 
few noticeable landmarks in Flanders. The 
monastery where the cavalry had a skirmish 
in October last, and the monks in their brown 
cowls and cassocks buried the result. There 
were English troopers, and German Uhlans, 
and also there was a German Prince. And 
this monastery, set on the Mont des Cats, 
came back to James Dawlish as an old friend. 
Had he not billeted in the village at the foot 
of it with the unpronounceable name when he 
first came to the front ? 

No need now to ask his way — he would go 
back to the village — where there was a girl 
he knew of and she would help him. And so 
with a conjparatively light heart he started, 
and in the course of a few hours he found 
himself at the farm which bad been his first 
Testing-place in France. 

Now, it is quite possible that, were it not for 
the extraordinary paucity of girls whom one 



may look at without smoked glasses in this 
delectable country. James Dawlish might 
have staved oil the inevitable for quite a 
time. When he left the ambulance, he had 
carefully buried in a pond his rifle and equip- 
ment, and anyone meeting iiim strolling down 
the road would have taken him to be merely a 
man from a unit resting. To make things 
more sure, he had removed his cap badge, 
and the titles on his shoulder straps. There 
was nothing whatever to show what he be- 
longed to ; he was merely a disreputable atom 
of the big machine in much-damaged khaki. 
But, as I have said, there was a girl in the 
case, and moreover, she was a girl who had 
been very kind to James DawUsh earUer in 
the proceedings. She really had been quite 
fond of him, but when he went away and the 
place knew him no more, being a girl of com- 
mon sense she tianilerred her attentions to 
his successor. As a matter of fact, there 
had been several successors, as regiments 
came and went, the intervals being filled with 
the semi-permanent sheet-anchor who stood 
for several hours each day at the cross-roads 
by the church in the village with the un- 
pronounceable name. And this sheet-anchor. 



who watched men come and watched men go, 
was a corporal in the Military Police. 

It was during one of his innings with the 
fair maiden that James Dawlish tactlessly 
arrived on the scene ; and when the Corporal 
made his appearance in the evening, having 
successfully carried out his arduous duties 
regulating the trafl&c during the afternocn 
he found the object of his affections planted 
firmly in the arms of an extremely untidy 
and travel-stained private. It is perhaps 
unnecessary to state that, annoyed as the 
Corporal was at this untoward intrusion on 
his preserves, his feeUngs were harmonious 
compared to those of Private Dawlish. To 
run full tilt into a Red Cap— as Tommy calls 
them— was the last thing he had intended 
doing ; and a glance at the Corporal's face 
told him that the Corporal was out for blood. 

" Who the 'ell are you, and what's your 
regiment ? " he remarked tersely, looking at 
his badgeless cap. 

And James Dawlish knew the game was up. 
He didn't even know what regiments were in 
the neighbourhood ; if he had he might have 
lied and tried a bluff. So he said who he was, 
and named his regiment. 




" The Loamshires ? " said the Corporal. 
" Second battalion ? But they're in the 
trenches, for my brother's in that there bat- 
taUon." The Military PoUceman looked at 
him mercilessly. " What are you doing 'ere, 
my lad ? " 

And this time James Dawlish was silent : 
there was nothing to say. To an officer he'd 
have Ued, uselessly, perhaps, but lied on 
principle : to a corporal he knew the futiUty. 
Two minutes later the door closed behind 
them, and they passed down the street. 

Thus it came about that No. 1234, Private 
James DawUsh, of the second battalion of 
the Loamshires, was apprehended by the 
Military PoUce, and placed in the guard-room 
of the village with the unpronounceable name, 
to await the investigation of his case by the 
A.P.M. or assistant provost-marshal of the 

And now the inevitable end must be written. 
There is not much to tell ; the whole thing was 
plain. The A. P.M. investigated the case, and 
it stood revealed in its hideous bareness. 
There was not a single redeeming feature. It 
was no case of a man's nerve temporarily 



breaking under some fearful strain : where 
now, in the wisdom of those in high places, 
a man may work off his slur, by returning and 
trying again. It was just a simple case of 
cowardice and desertion in the presence of 
the enemy, and for it there was no excuse. 
That James Dawlish was made that way 
may have been his misfortune, but if that 
were taken as an excuse a good many men 
might find themselves sitting quietly in vil- 
lages with unpronounceable names, while 
their pals lost their lives further east. 

So in due course James DawUsh stood be- 
fore a court-martial. The evidence was heard, 
and then- the accused was marched out, 
ignorant of his fate. 

" The Court is closed to consider its find- 
ing." Thus spoke the President, a Major in 
the infantry. And when the door had closed, 
he turned to the junior member — a subaltern 
of gunners — and his face was grave. It is the 
law of courts-martial that the junior member 
gives his idea of the adequate sentence first, 
in order that he may not be influenced by 
what his seniors have said. 

" What is your opinion ? " a''kedthe Major. 

The subaltern driunmed on the table with 



his fingers, and stared in front of him. Death, 
or such less penalty. The words seemed 
stamped on the wall. For a space he was 
silent ; then he swallowed twice and spoke. 

The Major glanced at the Captain, and the 
Captain, who was gazing fixedly out of the 
window, turned slowly round, and nodded. 
" I agree," he remarked incisively. 

The Major looked at the papers in front of 
him, and mechanically produced his cigarette 
case. Then he wrote, and his hand shook a 

And though the Major and the Captain and 
the subaltern had one and all looked on deatk 
many times unmoved, yet that night they 
were strangely silent. 

To those who insist on the hundred and 
first chapter I can but quote the following 
bald announcement that appeared in a docu- 
ment of surpassing dullness known as General 
Routine Orders. It had a number which I 
forget, and it was sandwiched between an 
interestingstatement about exchanging French 
money into English, and a still more entranc- 
ing one on the subject of the Regimental 
Debts Act. Moreover, it was labelled Courts- 
Martial, and ran as follows : 



No. 1234, Private James Dawlish, 2nd 
Battalion, The Loamshires, was tried by a 
Field General Courts-Martial on the following 
charge : 

" When on active service deserting His 
Majesty's Service." 

The sentence of the Court was " To suffer 
death by being shot." 

The sentence was duly carried out at 
4 a.m. on August 3rd. 

And the only thing which gives a man to 
think is that about six hours after they laid 
that poor dishonoured clay in the ground, the 
manager of a large emporium at home was 
pleased to promote one of his shopwalkers 
from the glove department to a sphere of 
activity which concerned itself principally 
with stockings. I don't know why stock- 
ings were more highly paid than gloves in 
that emporium, but no matter. 

The point of the thing is the shopwalker. 
His name is DawUsh— Augustus Dawlish. 
He used to look down on his brother James. 
Soldiering is not a genteel occupation com- 
pared to selling stockings. I suppose he'll 
do so still more if he ever learns the truth. 



Driver Robert Brown, as I have already 
remarked, was an admirable man in many 
ways. And I have frequently observed to 
other members of the mess, that one of the 
things that most endeared him to rne was 
his love of animals. 

Brown was not a beauty, I admit : his 
face was of the general-utility order, and 
he had a partiality for singing a dreadful 
song of which he only knew one line — at 
least that is all we ever heard, thank Heaven! 
At cockcrow, 'neath the midday sun, at 
eventide, did he foist upon a long-suffering 
world, with a powerful and somewhat flat 
voice, the following despairing wail : " What 
a faice, what a faice, what a norrible faice, 
lumme, what a faice she 'ad." Occasional 
streams of invective issued from neighbour- 
ing dug-outs. The result was immaterial; 



he merely appraised other portions of the 
lady's anatomy. Once I remember the cook 
was ill ; Brown did his work. He was a 
good lad — ^he always did every one else's 
work. We were hungry — ^very hungry— and 
he, stout fellow, was preparing our repast. 

" Homlette, sir," he had murmiu-ed con- 
fidentially, " peas and taters, and fresh 
meat ! " and with his honest face shining 
with eagerness to prepare this Epicurean 
banquet he had gone about his business. 
The shadows lengthened — an appetising smell 
greeted our nostrils ; we forgave him his im- 
toward references to his adored one's " faice." 
Then it happened. 

" What a neye, what a neye, what a norrible 
heye, lumme " — there was a fearful pause and 
a sizzling noise — " lumme, the whole perish- 
ing homlette's in the fire." It was ; and in 
a gallant attempt at rescue he upset the 
meat in an adjacent stagnant pool. The 
only thing we got were the peas, and they 
rattled on the tin plates like shrapnel bullets. 

However, as I've said several times, he 
was an admirable lad, and a love of animals 
atoned for a multitude of sins. At least 
every one thought so, until he adopted a 



goat. It was an animal of unprepossessing 
aspect and powerful smell — very powerful. 
I speak with some authority on the sub- 
ject of goats, for in the course of my service 
I have lived for a space on an abominable 
island " set in a sapphire sea." Ninety per 
cent, of its population are goats, the re- 
mainder priests ; and without intermission, 
in a ceaseless stream, the savour of that 
island flows upwards and outwards. I there- 
fore claim to speak with authority, and 
Brown's goat would have held its own with 
ease in any community. 

He accommodated it in a special dug-out, 
from which it habitually escaped ; generally 
at full speed just as the Major was passing. 
When the Major had been knocked down 
twice. Brown was accorded an interview. It 
was a breezy little affair, that interview, and 
Brown for some hours seemed a trifle dazed. 
For some time after he was busy in the goat's 
dug-out, and when I passed on my way out 
to a job of work that evening, I found him 
contemplating his handiwork with pride. 
Not content with doubling its head-rope, he 
had shackled the goat fore and aft to pegs 
in the ground— one fore-leg and one hind-leg 


being secured by rope to two pegs firmly 
driven into the floor of the dug-out. 

"That's done you, my beauty," I heard 
him murmuring ; and then he relapsed into 
his song, while the goat watched him pen- 
sively out of one eye. 

I subsequently discovered that it was 
about three o'clock next morning it hap- 
pened. The goat, having slipped its collar 
and pulled both pegs, shot from its dug-out 
with a goat-like cry of joy. Then the pegs 
alarmed it, dangling from its legs — and it 
went mad. At least, that's what the Major 
said. It appeared that, having conducted 
an exhaustive survey of a portion of the line 
with the General and his staff, they had re- 
turned to refresh weary nature with a portion 
of tongue and a bottle of fine old port — the 
old and bold, full of crustiness. Hardly had 
they got down to it, when, with a dreadful 
and earsplitting noise, the goat bounded 
through the door of the dug-out. One peg 
flying round caught the General on the knee, 
the other wrapped itself round the leg of the 
table. The old gentleman, under the im- 
pression that the Germans had broken 
through, drew his revolver, and with a great 



cry of " Death rather than dishonour," 
discharged his weapon six times into the 
blue. Mercifully there were no casualties, 
as the staff, with great presence of mind, had 
hurled themselves flat on their faces during 
this dangerous proceeding. Each shot came 
to rest in the crate containing the whisky, 
and the fumes from the liquid which flowed 
over the floor so excited the goat that with one 
awful effort it broke loose and disappeared 
into an adjacent cornfield. I cannot vouch 
for all this — in fact the mess as a body received 
the story coldly. The junior subaltern even 
went so far as to murmur to another graceless 
youth that it was one way of accounting 
for eight bottles of whisky and two of port — 
and that it was very creditable to all con- 
cerned that they said it was a goat, and not a 
spotted megothaurus. All I can vouch for 
is that when the Major woke up the next 
day, he issued an ultimatum. The goat must 
go — alive if possible ; dead if necessary — but 
if he ever again saw the accursed beast, he, 
personally, would destroy it with gun-cotton. 
As he really seemed in earnest about the 
matter, I decided that something must be 
done. I sent for Brown. 


" Brown," I said when he appeared, " the 
goat must go." 

" What, Hebeneezer, sfr ? " he answered 
in dismay. 

" I do not know its name," I returned 
firmly, " and I was under the impression that 
it was a female ; but if you call it Ebeneezer, 
then Ebeneezer must go." He became pen- 
sive. " Dead or alive that accursed mam- 
mal must depart, never to rettim. It has 
aheady seriously injured the Major's con- 

" It has, sir ? " There was a world of sur- 
prise in his tone. " Of course, it don't do 
to go playing about with it, or crossing it Uke 
but " 

" The goat has done the crossing. Twice 

; full speed." 

" 'E seems a bit quiet this morning, sir. 
Off his food like. And e's lost a bit of 'is 
tail." Brown scratched his head medita- 

The fact did not surprise me — but I pre- 
served a discreet silence. " ; -et rid of it 
this morning, and see that it never returns ! " 
I ordered, and the incident closed — at least 
I thought so at the time. 


Brown reported his departure that evening, 
and with a sigh of relief from the Major the 
odoriferous Ebeneezer was struck off the 
strength with effect from that day's date. 
It is true that I noticed strange and mys- 
terious absences on the part of my servant 
when he left carrying something in paper and 
returned empty-handed, and that in the 
back of my mind I had a vague suspicion 
that somewhere in the neighbourhood there 
still remained that evil-smelling animal looked 
after and fed by Robert Brown. But, as a 
week passed and we saw and smelt the beast 
no more, my suspicions were lulled to rest, 
and I dismissed the untoward incident from 
m" mind. I am always of an optimistic dis- 
p ition ! 

f should say it was about ten days after 
Ebeneezer's departure that I awoke one 
morning early to the sound of a violent 
altercation without. 

"I tells you, you can't see the Major. 
'E's in 'is bath." Peering out, I saw Brown 
and the cook warding off two extremely ex- 
cited Belgians. 

" Bath ! Bath ! Qu'est que c'es<— bath I " 
The stouter Belgian gesticulated freely. 


" You are— vot you say— </« ghtie, n'est-ce- 
pas ? Eet is important— ver important that 
I see monsieur le commandant." 

" Look here, cully," murmured the cook, 
removing a clay pipe from his mouth and 
expectorating with great accuracy ; " moosoo 
le commondant is in 'is bath— see You'll 
'ave to wait. Bath— savez. Eau." He 
pointed to a bucket of water. 

"Man Dieu/" shuddered the Belgian. 
^' Eh bien I mon ami, ccs zere anozer oflBcer ? 
It is tris imfortc^t ' He was getting excited 
again. " Les Luches — zere is a bruit under 
ze earth — comprenez ? Zey make a — oh ! 
ze word, ze word — zey make une mine, and 
ien we all go Pouff ! " He waved his hands 
to Heaven. 

" Mean. Mean," remarked the cook con- 
templatively. " Wot the deuce does he 
mean ? Anyway, Bob, we might take 'im 
on as a sparklet machine." 

Then I thought it was about time I came to 
therescue. "What' sail the trouble. Brown?" 
I asked, coming out of the dug-out. 

' These 'ere blokes, sir . . ." he began ; but 
as both Belgians began talking at once, he 
got no further. 


"Ah I monsieur," they cried, " vous iUs du 
gMeP" I assured them I was of the engi- 
neers. "Then come vite, s'il vous plait. 
We are of ze artillery, and ze Germans zey 
make une mine, n'est-ce-pas? We go up 
Pouff . Our guns zey go up Pouff- aussi." 

" Mining," I cried. " the Germans mining 
here! Impossible, messieurs. Why, we're 
a mile and a half behind the firing-Une." I re- 
gret to say I was a little peevish. 

Nevertheless they assured me it was so— 
not once, but many times. Strange noises, 
they affirmed, were heard in the bowels of the 
earth near their battery— mysterious rum- 
blings occurred; they continually assured 
me they were going Pouff ! 

I went to the Major. He was not in a 
good temper— he rarely is in the early morn- 
ing—and the last blade of his safety razor 
was blunt. 

" Mining here ! " he barked. " What the 
deuce are they talking about ? If s probably 
nesting time for woodpeckers or something. 
Oh ! yes- go away and see," in reply to my 
question. " Anything to get those two em- 
bryo volcanoes off the premises : and don't 
let 'em come back, for Heaven's sake ! " 


So I went. Undoubtedly there were noises 
— very strange subterranean noises, in front 
of that battery. Moreover, the sounds seemed 
to come from different places. At times they 
were very loud ; at others they ceased. The 
excitement soon became intense. Stout 
officers lay all over the ground with their 
ears pressed in the mud. The commandant 
of the battery ran round in small circles say- 
ing Pouff ! distractedly. In fact every one 
said Pouff ! to every one else. It became the 
password of the morning. Then at last 
the crucial moment arrived. The centre of 
the storm, so to speak, had been located— the 
place where, so far as we could tell, the noise 
seemed consistently loudest. At that point 
the Belgians started to dig ; and instantly a 
triumphant shout rent the air. The place 
was an old disused shaft, boarded over and 
covered with a thin layer of earth. At last 
it was open, and from it there issued loud 
and clear a dreadful tapping. 

" A network of galleries," cried an inter- 
preter excitedly. " Probably old shafts reach- 
ing the German lines. We are lost." He 
and the conmiandant had a pouffing match 
in their despair. But now the noise became 


greater, and we heard distinctly a human 
voice. It was at that moment the dread 
suspicion first dawned on me. An army of 
men hung over the edge, armed to the teeth 
with pistols and bowie knives, tin cans and 
bits of brick. Tap, tap, louder and louder, 
came the noise. The Pouffers were silent— 
every one breathed hard. 

Then suddenly I heard it echoing along 
the hollow gallery : " What a faice, what a 
faice, what a norrible faice— Ht^eneezer, you 
perisher ; where the 'ell are you ?— lumme, 
what a faice she 'ad." 

" ' The Watch on the Rhine.' They sing 
their accursed song," howled the comman- 
dant. " Belgium for ever, mes braves ! " 

It was at that moment that a stout spec- 
tator, moved to frenzy by this appeal, or else 
owing to a rush of blood to the head, hurled 
his tin can. Every one fired — a ghastly noise 
rent the gloom of the well ; there was the 
sound of something departing at a great rate ; 
a heavy fall ; and then silence. 

I walked thoughtfully back to my dug-out, 
refusing the offer of making further explora- 
tions. As I passed inside I met Brown. He 
was Umping, and the skin was off his nose." 


" What have you been doing ?" I de- 

" I fell down, sir." he answered. 
" Brown," I said sternly, " where is the 
goat, Ebeneezer ? " 

Brown nibbed his nose and looked thought- 
fuUy at me. " Well, sir, I can't say as 'ow 
I rightly know. 'E was " Further dis- 
closures were nipped in the bud by the sud- 
den appearance of the Major. He was in- 
articulate with rdge. 

^ ^'Get me my revolver," he spluttered. 
Get me my revolver. That damn goat's 
come back and knocked me down again ! " 
But Brown had discreetly vanished. 





Aunt Araminta is one of the dearest souls 
that ever breathed. I may say at once that 
she IS not my aunt— rather does she belong 
to a subaltern of the unit. But we aU feel 
a sort of proprietary right to Aunt Araminta 
In the past she has supplied us all with many 
things. During the winter we received fre- 
quent consignments of cholera belts and 
socks, gloves and khaki handkerchiefs. Most 
of them had moth balls sewn in. I have 
never seen her, but I unhesitatingly state 
that she is of the moth-ball type— she is a 
martyr to them. This conclusion is con- 
finned by her nephew— a graceless youth 
Now I regret to say that much of our aiiec- 
tion for the elderly Araminta has gone. It 
may return in time— but she has been directly 
responsible for our being sent to the front- 
line trenches when we were enjoying a com- 
parative rest on a somewhat safer Une. No 



doubt she was actuated by the best inten- 
tions in the world, but just at present we 
don't mention her if the Major is about. 

It all occurred owing to a shortage of milk 
— condensed or otherwise. We were on a 
line, which though safe — or more or less so — 
did not admit ot our obtaining the genuine 
article with any ease. I appealed to Driver 
Robert Brown, our sheet-anchor—our Ad- 
mirable Crichton. He it is who buys us 
eggs; he gets us bread and pork chops; 
anon he obtains tinned salmon mingled with 
sardines. Once he essayed some fizzy water 
— Eau Gazeuse is, I beUeve, the correct 
name. Something got mixed, and the mess 
lowered a dozen Apenta before retiring to 
bed. However, that is another story. 

Into the ears then of this our guide and 
mentor, our home within a home, our ever- 
ready gas cooker, I wliispered the word milk. 
He said he knew of a cow, and he'd see what 
could be done. 

Soon after he left with a tin receptacle 
and an air of determination ; an hour after 
he returned with neither. He retired into 
the cook-house and shortly after there came 
voices in wordy warfare. 


" You mean to say you ain't got no 
milk ? " demanded the cook aggrievedly. 

" No — I ain't." Brown emerged ana 
mopped his brow wearily. 

" Couldn't you find the cow ? I told you 
where it was." The Doctor's orderly ceased 
placing chloride of Ume on the tomb of a 
rat. " And wot 'ave you done to your face ? 
It's 'orrible. Worse than usual." 

" Less about my face." Brown's retort 
was a trifle heated. " I tells you, when I got 
to that there place you told me of — ^you 
couldn't see the perishing cow for the crowd. 
There was a row of blokes with mess tins, 
and one of 'em 'ad a dixie. When it come 
to my turn, I sits down by the old girl, and 
puts the tin on the floor. I got one jet going 
for about five seconds and that missed the 
blooming bucket. Then she shut up, and 
not another drop could I get. A perisher 
in the gunners, 'e says, ' Pull 'arder,' 'e says, 
' Great strength returns the penny.' So I 
got down to it like, just to wake 'er up, when 
blowed if she didn't 'op it. 'Opped it, and 
kicked me in the faice as a souvenir." He 
felt the injured member tenderly. 
" I don't know as 'ow I notice much the 


matter with it . " The cook gazed impassively 
at Brown's face. " It looks just hke it al- 
ways did, worse luck. But then it ain't 
the sort of face as is affected by little things 
like that. As the medical profession ob- 
served it is a norrible thing— your face 
Ain't it, Bob ? " 

This appeal for confirmation to the face's 
owner touched me greatly. However, as I 
am quite unable to record the answer— and 
the rest of the conversation does not call 
for comment— I will pass on to the moment 
when I mentioned the shortage of condensed 
milk, and the failure up to the present to 
supply the genuine to an indignant mess. 
I may mention — en passant — ^that in a mo- 
ment of imbeciUty I had permitted myself 
to be thrust into the position of mess caterer. 
The Doctor used to do it— but he fell in love, 
and was unable to do anything but play 
"Somewhere a Voice is Calling" on the 
gramophone. As the record was cracked, 
there was a general feehng of relief when the 
junior subaltern strafed a mouse with it. 
However, the doctor being beyond human 
help, his mantle descended on me. I was 
away when it did so— but that is by the 



way. The result would probably have 
been the same. Brown, as I have said, 
did it all; but I was the figure head- 
on me descended the wrath of outraged 
officers compelled to eat sardines past their 
first youth, and the scene after the Uttle 
episode of the Apenta water was quite 

" Why not go yourself and milk the bally 
cow if Brown can't ? " remarked one of them 
unfeelingly. "Sing to it, dearie— one of 
those httle love ballads of your early youth. 
Something is bound to occur." 

And then up spake Horatius— it is his 
name— he being the one that owned Aunt 
Araminta. "The old girl has just written 
me asking me if we want anything. I'll tell 
her to send some condensed along. Of course 
it won't be here for some time— but it's 
better than nothing." He turned over the 
last sheet. " She is sending a hamper, as a 
matter of fact. Perhaps there'U be some 
in it." 

" Two to one it's nothing but moth balls," 
remarked the doctor irreverently. " Hea- 
vens! do you remember the time the old 
dear got one mixed up in her home-made 


potted meat — and the Major broke his tooth 
on it." 

It was the next day that parcel arrived. 
A shower of white balls descended to the 
floor, two odd socks, some peppermint bull's- 
eyes, a letter, and ^ bottle. 

" Great Heavens ! " muttered Horatius, 
gingerly inspecting the collection. " What 
has the old girl sent ? " He opened the letter, 
read it, and asked for whiskey. 

" My dear nephew," he read, in a hushed 
voice. " I am sending you a bottle of the 
new milk— Dr. Trapheim's Pepnotised Milk. 
As you will gather from perusing the label 
on the bottle, it is a marvellous discovery. 
At first I feared from the inventor's name 
that he might be of Germanic extraction, but 
subsequent inquiries enabled me to discover 
that he is in reaUty the son of a Swedish Jew 
who married a girl from Salt Lake City. So, 
of course, he must be all right. 

" In this wonderful milk, my dear nephew, 
there are three million germs to the cubic 
foot — or is it inch ? I forget which. Any- 
way, a very large number of nutritious germs 
exist in it. You remember poor Pluto ? 


"The pug," he explained hoarsely, and 
continued reading. 

" Regularly for a week before his death he 
drank a saucerful each night— and it eased 
him wonderfully. You remember his dreadful 
asthma. It quite left him, and he would 
lie for hours without movement after drink- 
ing it. 

" I hastened to buy a bottle— and send it 
to you all, with my very best wishes, 
" Your affectionate 

" Aunt Araminta." 

"P.S.— It may have different effects on 
different people. The cook, silly girl, has 
given notice." 

And for a space there was silence. Then 
Horatius picked up the bottle, and in a 
hushed voice recited the label. 

"Cures consumption, eradicates eczema, 
intimidates itch, and routs rabies. Makes 
bonny bouncing babies." He choked slightly, 
and ri-sed it on to me. There was nothing 
that Ik wouldn't do. Its effect on the 
human system was like rare wine, only per- 
manent. It caused a clarity of vision, an 
improvement in inteUect, a brightening of 


brain that started with the first bottle drank, 
and increased and multiplied with every 
succeeding bottle. It enlarged the bust in 
one paragraph, and removed double chins in 
another. Old and young alike thrived on it — 
it was the world's masterpiece in health-giv- 
ing foods. Moreover it was impossible to 
tell it from ordinary milk when drinking it. 
That was its great charm. It could be used 
in tea or coffee or drunk neat. It made no 
odds. After one sip you bagged a winner. 
The betting was , about a fiver to a dried 
banana skin that after a bottle you became 
a sort of superman. 

It was while we were sitting a little dazedly 
with the bottle occupying a position of 
honour in the centre of the dug-out that we 
heard the Major's voice outside — ^also the 
General's, to say nothing to two staff officers. 
They had walked far and fast, and I gathered 
from the conversation that Percy the pip- 
squeak — gun, small, Hun variety — ^had thrust 
himself upon them. Their tempers did not 
seem all that one could desire. The preva- 
lent idea, moreover, appeared to be tea. 

"We'd better decant it, in a jar," said 
Horatius gloomily. " The General loathes 


tea without milk, and it says on the bottle 
you can't tell the difference." 

The Doctor, however, was firm. He re- 
fused to allow anyone to drink it without 
being told, and as he pointed out if you tell 
a distinctly warm and irritable old gentle- 
man that the apparently harmless liquid he 
sees in an ordinary jug on the table is in 
reality a pepnotised breed with three million 
germs to the cubic inch in it— he will 
probably not be amused, but will send 
you back to the trenches as a dangerous 

Horatius pointed out still more gloomily 
that to offer the old gentleman a bottle which 
expressly set out to eradicate eczema and 
intimidate itch was an even less Ukely way 
to his favoiur. 

The General's entrance at that moment, 
however, settled the matter, and we began tea! 
It was not a cheerful meal to start with— 
rather the reverse. In fact, when I had ex- 
plained and apologised for the absence of any 
milk, and introduced the bottle to the meeting, 
the atmosphere of the dug-out resembled a 
lawyer's office when the relatives hear their 
aunt's money has been left to a society for 


providing cannibak with unshrinkable wo^l 

" Who sent the damn stuff ? " asked the 
Major coldly. 

" Aunt Araminta." Horatius nervously re- 
moved the wire that held in the cork. One 
of the staff oflacers carefully picked up the 
bottle and proceeded to read the label, while 
the General's expression was that of a man 
who gazes at short range into the mouth of 
a gun. 

"It's wonderful stuff," continued Hora- 
tius. " Roll, bowl, or pitch, you bag a coco- 
nut every time you drink it. My aunt, sir, 
speaks most highly of it." He turned to the 
General, who received the news without 

" Three million bugs to the cubic inch," 
read the staff of&cer musingly. "And if 
there are twenty cubic inches in the bottle, 
we get sixty million bugs. Allowing for 
casualties, and in order to be on the safe side 
in case the makers swindled, call it fifty 

" I think," remarked the General, breaking 
an oppressive silence, " I will have a whiskey 
and soda." 


It was at that moment I noticed the cork. 
My shout of warning came too late. With 
great force and a noise like a black Maria, it 
flew from the bottle, and from point-blank 
range imbedded itself in the General's left 
eye. The entire mess became covered with 
a species of white foam, but the General took 
the brunt. For a moment there was a dread- 
ful silence, and then with a wild shout « e 
hurled ourselves through the doorway. I 
have smelt many smells in many cities : I 
have stood outside tallow works. I have 
Jived in the salient of Ypres. I have— but 
why elaborate ? I say it with solemnity and 
earnestness: I have never smelt anything 
like that milk ? Never in my wildest mo- 
ments have I imagined that such a smell 
could exist. It was superhuman, stupendous, 

The General, who had lost his eye-glass in 
the excitement and then trodden on it, was 
running round in small circles, holding his 
nose. He was unable at any time to see 
with his right eye, and a portion of cork still 
remained in his left. Without cessation he 
trumpeted for assistance. 

"Wipe it off," he howled. "Wipe the 


damn sWB 08, yo» t""''?^ '^L^ 
fell heavUy tato a Johnson hole, and became 


J^Tdmets on, thinking a «» <<>™ ""^ 



with handkerchiefs. ^ 


«r»nSii »,. After .».»o«i»i •- - 
once or twice, he spoke. ,, 

•• I do not know if this was a ]^t. His 
voice was hoarse. " My eye-glass is broken, 
IS sirht of my other eye irreparably d^- 
te^ I amnowgoingtoCorpsHeadq«^ 
Sd provided the Corps Commander can sit 
f; the same room with that cursed woman s 
Sty Sn stinking bacilli. I propose to ^k 
Sm r let you try them at once on the 

""iSt'a solemn hush he departed-with 


by car, with the one who'd failed to get the 
seat next the driver sitting on the step at 
the side, and the General enthroned alone 
like a powerful-smeUing fungoidal growth, 
was not the least pathetic incident of the 

But Aunt A. is not popular. 




In the sky overhead the sun struggled through 
the drifting clouds, throwing a watery gleam 
on the sea of mud which called itself the picket 
line. Just for a moment it seemed as if it 
would triumph, and, as I looked up, the old 
bay horse with the batman «*atvifi»ig ^t his 
head was bathed in sunshine. Behind him 
the troop horses steadily muncUmg kay ; the 
men in Uttk scattered groups squatting 
round camp fires watching their dinners cook. 
Just the same as it was yesterday, just the 
same as it was the day before, but — " Will 
you take over his hcxse, sir ? " 

In the distance a black speck seemed to 
be hanging in the air. All round it Uttle 
sharp flashes of fire and fleecy puffs of smoke 
showed that the Germans had also seen that 
speck and hoped it was within range. There 



was one complete set of six smoke balls, so 
close together that one could ahnost cover 
them with a soup plate. Another set had 
only five. Ah ! there was the sixth, a Uttle 
wide. There had been three perfect groups 
of six when he and I had been looking at the 
same thing a few mornings before. Listlessly 
I watched the black speck. Gradually it 
grew larger and larger until the big biplane 
passed overhead. And underneath the Union 
Jack— painted on the plane. Just the same 
thank Heaven, just the same. The flag 
untouched, each unit which represents that 
flag carrying on the inexorable work. There 
is no cessation ; there are others ; it is war, 
but—" Will you take over his horse ? " 

The old bay horse ! I wonder if you, too 
remember that day at Tattersall's. Do you 
remember the hand running over your legs 
and stopping at that big splint on your off 
fore ? Can you hear again that voice you've 
got to know so well ? " Look at those hocks 
man; look at that shoulder; that splint 
may just bring him down to my price." And 
do you remember the hunts? Do you 


remember that pomt-to-point when yo« both 
came such a crumpler at that big s4ke and 
bmder ? Perhaps you remember old hoS^ 
perhaps you do; for who shaU say S 
where an ammal's knowledge begins and endsP 
There s no good your looking round like that. 

vou? a^:.? '""I^" *^^ ™°™°g' have 
you?-and you know something's wrong 
but you don't know what. Sw S 
you? You don't understand, and I do 
Heaven knows-which is worse. In time 
perhaps the sugar will taste just as good o^t 
of my hand as far as you're concerned. I 
hope ,t will, because-well, you heard the 
q^tion, too-.-WiU you take over h^ 

Yes, I must take you over until someone 

through this show alive. You don't know 
much about that someone, do you, old chap > 
Do you remember that day when you made 
such a fool of yourself because a side saddle 
had been put on you for the first time and 
your master with a sack round his waisi was 
sitting on your back aU askew, as you thought. 



And then about a week after, when you were 
qmte accustomed to it, somecKie else got upon 
you who was so light that yxm scarcely felt 
any weight at all. And when you lifted your 
heels a bit, just for fun, because you hardly 
knew there was anyone there at all, do you 
rememlw how he rubbed your muzzle and 
talked to you untU you became quiet? 
But there are so many things that you can't 
know, aren't there, old horse ? You weren't 
m my room when he came round to it that 
night to tell me before anyone else of his 
wonderful luck. You couldn't know that 
the little Ught load you carried so often was 
the most precious thing in the whole world 
to the man who never missed coming round 
to your box after dinner on a hunting day 
to make sure you were rugged up and bedded 
down for the night al) right. That's where 
I get the pull of you, old man. You see I 
was going to be his best man when he could 
afford to get married. He insisted on that 
when he told me first. But-things have 
happened since that night, and I'm going to 
take you over, because I want to give you 
back to her. I don't expect you'll carry 
her hunting again ; women aren't made that 


way— at least not this one. Though he'd 
like it. I know. 

But then, he won't be able to tell her. 
That's the rub. I know it was only yesterday 
afternoon you heard him say that it was a 
grand day for a hunt. I know it was only 
last night that you were saddled up suddenly 
with all the other troop horses and trotted for 
two hours along muddy roads in the darkness. 
Then he dismounted— didn't he ?— and went 
on on foot with his men, while you and his 
other horse stopped behind. And you couldn' t 
understand why a few hours later, when the 
<»ther men mounted, no one got on your 
back, and you were led back here. Just a 
casual German sniper, sitting in a tree, taking 
pot shots into the darkness. Just a small 
round hole right in the centre of his forehead 
and the back of his head— but we won't 
think of that. That's what happened, old 
man. Nothing very glorious, nothing at all 
heroic. It's so ordinary, isn't it? It has 
akeady happened hundreds of times. It's 
going to happen hundreds more. Every- 
thing is going on just the same. It hasn't 
made any difference. The guns are in action 

r-jUK-msftSf^-tcsiu • 



just as they were yesterday, and there's 
that Maxim going again. But you've lost 
your master, old horse; and I've lost a 

friend : and the girl ? Not a bad bag, 

for half an ounce of lead ! 

They've left him up there, with a cross 
over his shallow grave, and his name scrawled 
on it with an indelibie pendL One can't 
get up there in the daylight— it's not safe. 
I'd like to have gone to-night to see if it was 
all right : but there's a job of work to be 
done elsewhere. So I'll have to lie to her. 
I'm writing her this afternoon. I can't let 
her open the paper one morning, and suddenly 
see his name standing out in letters of fire 
from aU the others. Just a pawn in the 
game— another officer killed— a bare, hard 
fact, brutal, uncompromising. No more 
letters to look forward to: no more socks 
and smokes to send out. True, the socks 
never fitted, but she didn't know. No : I 
can't let her find it out that way. I must 
write : though what on earth can I say to 
her ? I never could vmte a letter hke that. 
If you're going to have your head smashed 
with a sledgehammer, one can't do much 

to deaden the blow. But I'll teU her I've 
seen his grave, and that it's aU right Just 
a pavm in the game. Only he was her king. 

" WiU you take over his horse, sir ? Your 
chestnut is very lame in fi oit." 

Teddy, old man, I've "lunted with you • 
I ve shot with you : I'v • played cricket with 
you : I've made love with you. You were 
one of Nature's sportsmen : one of the salt 
of the earth. May the earth lie lightly on 
you old pal. ' There's a motor-cyclist coming 
with orders now : the same fellow with 
spectacles who has been to us for the last 
fortnight. There's a Taube overhead, and 
the mfantry are loosing off at it. It's out of 
range, just the same as usual. Everything 
IS just the same, Teddy, except that someone^ 
heart has got to be broken, and that I— weU 
I've taken over your horse. 



Away in front, gleaming wkte through the 
gathering dusk on the side of a hiU. Ues the 
front hne. Just beyond it. there is another : 
the Germans. Down m the vaUey behind 
that white line a town, from which with 
monotonous regularity rise great columns of 
black smoke-German heavies bursting again 
and agam on the crumbling red houses. And 
from the village there rises a great iron con- 
struction with two girdered towers, a land- 
mark for miles. PeriodicaUy German crumps 
sail overhead with a droning noise, woolly 
bears burst on one's flank, and then a salvo 
coming unpleasantly near makes one re- 
member that the skyline is not recommended 
by the best people as a place to stand on, and 
getting mto the trench, you retire again to 
the dug-out, to wait for the night to cloak 
your doings. 
In the hne of trench are men— men not 



there to fight, not even in support. They 
are there to clear up the battlefield ; for only 
a few days ago the trench in which you are 
sitting was the German front line. The bed 
on which you lie has supported a stout Teu- 
ton for probably ten long months or more ; 
and now where is he ? My predecessor was 
addicted to the use of a powerful scent of 
doubtful quality, which still hangs faintly in 
the air. He also believed in comfort. There 
are easy chairs, and cupboards, and tables, 
and, as I say, a bed. Also there are mice, 
scores of them, who have a great affection 
for using one's face as a racecourse during 
one's periods of rest. 

But my predecessor was absolutely out of 
it with another fellow along the trench. His 
dug-out was a veritable palace, boasting of 
wall-papers and a carpet, with a decorated 
dado round the part where dados live, and a 
pretty design in fruits and birds painted on 
the ceiling. Bookshelves filled with the latest 
thing in German wit, and a very nice stove 
with flue attached. I was beaten by a short 
head trying to get there, which was, perhaps, 
as well. Mine confined itself to mice. . . . 

Gradually the night falls, and with it starts 



the grim task. It was. as I have said, the 
German line— now it is ours ; the change is 
not brought about without a price. Turn 
around, away from that Une now ahnost in- 
visible in front, and look behind. There, 
oyer a mass of broken pickets and twisted 
wire, gleams another white line — our original 
front trenches. Between you and it lies the 
no man's land of ten months — and there on 
that strip of land is part of the price. It lies 
elsewhere as well, but a patch of fifty yards 
will serve. There was one, I remember, where 
the German line had swung out at right 
angles— a switch— going nearer to ours. In 
this bit of the Une the wire had run perpen- 
dicular to the rest of their trench for a few 
score yards. And in the re-entrant a machine 
gun had been placed, so that it fired along the 
wire. The steel casing we found still stand- 
ing, though the ground around was torn to 
pieces. That machine gun paid for its con- 
struction. . . . 

There was one group of four outside, a 
subaltern and three men. They were lying 
on the ground, in one close-packed jumble, 
and the subaltern had his arm around a man's 
neck. Just in the torn up wire they lay — 

Miatocorr desouition test chart 









1653 Eatt Moin Street 

Roch««ter. Neo York 14609 USA 

(716) 482 - 0300 - Phone 

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the price at the moment of victory. Another 
five seconds and they would have been in 
that hne ; but it was left to some one else to 
stop that machine gun firing. And so, beside 
that motionless, distorted group a hole is 
dug, and soon no trace remains. One phase 
of clearing the battlefield ; there are many 
such holes to be made. A few yards away — 
this time on the parapet of the trench— a 
Scotchman and a German are lying together. 
The Scotchihan's bayonet is through the 
German— his hands still hold the rifle— and 
as he stabbed him he himself had been shot 
from behind. A strange tableau : natural 
enough, yet weirdly grim to the imagination 
when seen by the dim Ught two or three days 
after it took place. 

One could elaborate indefinitely. Each of 
those quiet, twisted figures means some one's 
tragedy: each of them goes to form the 
price which must be paid. And at no time, 
I think, does the brutal reahsm of war 
strike home more vividly than when in cold 
blood one sees before one's eyes the results 
of what took place in hot blood a few days 
before. Just a line in the paper — a. name — 
no more. That is the pubUc result of the 



price, and at one time it seemed to me hard 
on those behind. Unavoidable of course, but 
hard. No details — nothing— just a state- 
ment. I have changed my mind : there are 
worse things than ignorance. . . . 

Then from the trenches themselves, from 
the dug-outs, from behind are pulled out the 
Huns. Caught in their deep dug-outs, with 
the small, slanting shaft going down to great 
chambers hewed out of the chalk underneath 
— and some of the shafts are ten to tv/elve 
yards long— unable to get out during the 
bombardment, they were killed by the score. 
A few bombs flung down the shaft and — 
voild tout. And so they are hauled out one 
at a time. More holes to be dug— more shell 
holes to be utilised. Apropos of those Hun 
dug-outs, a Uttle incident in one of them re- 
vealed yet another side of Tommy's character. 
Truly is he a man of many parts. A few 
cheery sportsmen having worked manfully 
and well, and having earned their rest, found 
the dug-out they had marked as their own 
was occupied. It had for the time been 
missed in the search for Germans; that was 
why it was occupied. Nothing daunted, 
however, they piled the occupants on one 



side, while they peacefully went to sleep on 
the other. There's no doubt getting a dead 
German up those shafts is weary work and 
they were tired. But Td sooner have 'slept 
in the trench myself. However, that is by 
the way. 

And so we go on, wandering in perfect 
safety over the ground that a few days before 
meant certain death. A mass of rifles, kit, 
bandoUers, accoutrements Utters the ground! 
save where it has aheady been collected and 
sorted into heaps. Unexploded bombs lie 
everywhere, clips of ammunition, bayonets. 
All has to be collected and sent back— another 
phase of clearing the battlefield. 

Then there is the road where some trans- 
port was caught topping the rise. There the 
holes have to be bigger, for the horses have 
to be buried even as the men. It is only 
rarely the process is aheady done. One 
horse there was, in a trench on his back, 
fifty yards from the road, stone dead. How 
he got there. Heaven knows. He wasn't 
much trouble. 

Then there was another mound from which 
protruded an arm, in German uniform, with 
its fingers pointing. And the hand was black. 



A morbid sight, a sight one will never 
forget. Vividest of all in my mind re- 
mains the impression of a German skeleton, 
near the edge of our own trench. Dead for 
nearly a year perhaps, shot in some night 
attack, trying to cut the wire. A skeleton 
hand from which the wire-cutters had long 
since fallen, crumbled on a strand, a skull 
grinned at the sky, a uaiform mouldered. 

That, and the blackness of Death. No 
peaceful drifting across the Divide, but black- 
ness and distortion. 

Thus the aftermath : the price. . . . 

PitmUd w CfMt Sritem by Hutu, WUsco & Vim^, U., 
Loitdim tud Ayltibury